California school's ban on US flag T-shirts allowed

Two women dance during Cinco De Mayo festivities in Los Angeles, California, on 5 May 2011 Cinco de Mayo is a popular holiday marked by parades and festivities in the US

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A California high school which barred students from wearing American flag T-shirts on a Mexican holiday did not violate their rights, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals found Live Oak High School near San Jose used the ban to avoid violence.

The school has had a history of problems between Latino and white students on Cinco de Mayo.

A lawyer for the students has said he plans to appeal the verdict.

"It was reasonable for school officials to proceed as though the threat of a potentially violent disturbance was real," Judge Margaret McKeown wrote in Thursday's unanimous opinion.

'A sad day'

School staff at the 5 May 2010 event reportedly told students wearing US flag T-shirts to turn them inside out, take them off or go home.

Four of the students chose to go home, and parents of three of the youths involved later filed lawsuits alleging the school had violated federal and state constitutional rights to freedom of expression.

The boys' lawyers said they would ask an 11-judge panel of the appeals court to rehear the case, and appeal up to the US Supreme Court if necessary.

Robert Muise, a lawyer who argued the case before the Ninth Circuit, said: "It is truly a sad day when government officials are permitted to ban the American flag on a public high school campus for any reason."

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle of Puebla on 5 May 1862 when Mexican troops defeated Napoleon III's French army.

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