DENAIR, Calif. (CBS13) ― School officials apologized after finding themselves the target of national anger following the news that a student was told to remove an American flag from his bike.
Denair superintendent Edward Parazz took full responsibility for what he called a big mistake, saying he understands why the furor erupted after 13-year-old Cody Alicea was told to leave his flag-decorated bike at home.
“Apologies to all the veterans, all the Americans,” Parazz said. “This is all on me. I didn’t want this to happen to the community, the veterans, the whole country.”
Cody said a school official told him last week his patriotically themed bike offended other students.
“I was a little upset, ’cause I should be able to fly the flag wherever I want, cause this is the United States and this is the U.S. flag,” Cody said.
Support for the boy and anger for the school immediately poured in from across the country and shows no sign of slowing.
Cody said there has been a constant stream of people at his home, and more than 500 motorcycle riders — many of whom are veterans from out-of-state — plan to escort him to school Monday morning.
A rally at the school could draw hundreds more, including leading figures and representatives in the national Tea Party movement.
Cody’s dad says the district’s apology was welcome but said many are not ready to give the issue up.
“I think we needed a great awakening. The sleeping bear has been awoken and he’s ready to eat,” Robert Kisner said. “We want our flag up, whether it be here, or at the school, or anywhere else.”
Superintendent Parazz promised this would be the last time Cody or any other student will be told to put away the flag.
“We’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Parazz said.
The school district is facing a lawsuit from a civil liberties group over the incident.
Cody said he doesn’t want the school official who told him to keep the flag at home to lose her job.