Pinellas County

Dunedin High students fight to display American flag on their vehicles

DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) -- Students at a Tampa Bay area high school are fighting to display the American flag on their vehicles.

Dunedin High School students said they went to school administrators after they say flags were taken off their cars. School administrators say a rule put in place several years ago doesn't allow for loose items to be left on vehicles or in truck beds.

Students organized a protest to fly the flag Friday.

"Today we set up this to try and stand up for ourselves and we can fly our flags," said senior Traven Goettl

Student Amber Alisandrelli said, "People in my family have fought for this country and for me to have a right taken away from me, it's kind of like upsetting."

Principal Kyle Johnson said he never told students they couldn't fly flags. Any items on the vehicles must be secured. He said the rule was put in place for the safety of the students.

"We never confiscated any flags, but what we did do is, if the flags were stuck in the back of pickup trucks and they were loose and we wanted to make sure no loose items at all can be picked up swung around, possibly hit somebody by accident," Johnson said.

"I get that it's a safety issue but the announcement was because it was going to cause a conflict," Senior Madeline Cunnings said.

Students are supposed to lock loose items away in their cars during school hours. Officials said items, such as two-by-fours, tools, and metal equipment had been left in truck beds in the past.

"We have a construction academy here and kids would have tools, rakes, shovels, axes, all sorts of stuff in the back that were loose that could become dangerous," said Principal Johnson.

He said a student previously walked into a two-by-four that was sticking out of a truck bed and injured herself. Principal Johnson said he will let democracy decide and allow the students to write a new proposal.

"In our proposal, we just talked about how national recognized flags are allowed in truck beds as long as they're secured properly so that way it's not a safety hazard or anything," senior class president Madison McCraney said.

Student council will vote on the proposal next week. If passed, the proposal will go before school officials before a final decision is made.

"It's what we call a teachable moment. They're learning about government, they're learning about processes, they're learning about how to express themselves, working through the system. I mean it's a great opportunity for them to grow and for us to all come together," Principal Johnson said.

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