Students sent home for wearing Haitian shirts

Posted at 11:01 PM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-19 06:49:52-04

IMMOKALEE, Fla. - 6 students at Immokalee High School were sent home Wednesday and two of them were suspended for violating the school district's code of conduct.

The students wore shirts celebrating Haitian Independence Day. The Caribbean Island nation declared independence from France more than 200 years ago.

"I just felt good that day because it's my independence day, then all of a sudden my principal, (said) oh you can't wear that you're not allowed to wear that, you have to go to the office, you have to change your shirt, I said heck no, I'm not going to change my shirt," said Junior Cheylee Inois.

She was suspended for 10 days for refusing to change. The Collier County code of student conduct bans the wearing of shirts that cause "dissension."

Spokesman Greg Turchetta said there was a disturbance at Immokalee High School last year in Haitian Independence Day.

"There was, during the lunch period about 200 students on the same day, on Haitian Day, stood up and played music, walked around campus made a lot of noise, went into the courtyard and into the hallways."

"No it didn't happen," said Inois. "We wait until the end of the day like we are supposed to."

The code says only flags representing the United States, State of Florida, and POW-MIA may be worn.

Recent graduates of Immokalee High say the community always embraced its Haitian culture.

"I graduated in '09, we had the police cop car in the center of the school with Haitian music in it," said Jonas Mervilus.

Some of the students say teachers and deputies assigned to the school made derogatory comments about the Haitian flag, and they want an apology.

The students say they'll wear Haitian themed shirts to school Friday.