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Monday, 9 October 2000

Taunting via flags brings ban of them at California school

SANTA YNEZ, Calif. (AP) - A high school where students taunted each other by displaying different flags has prohibited flags on campus.

A group of students at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in Santa Barbara County displayed a Mexican flag, and another group responded by displaying a Confederate and then an American flag, school officials said.

The students claimed they were merely demonstrating their patriotism in carrying the flags last week, but Principal Norm Clevenger said he believes the behavior suggested intolerance.

"It's unfortunate. The problem is not with the flags. It's a small group of students with an attitude that they are unwilling to get along with some other groups of students," Clevenger said. "That's unacceptable and disruptive to a safe school."

Some students also shouted obscenities and derogatory comments at others.

The incidents led Clevenger to briefly confiscate some American flags and suspend four students. And he announced a ban on students' bringing flags to campus or tying them to school property.

Flags will be permitted on students' cars, and the American flag will continue to fly from the flagpole at the school, which has 1,130 students.