1 Lely High School Boulevard, Naples, FL
NAPLES — The Confederate flag that led to one Lely High School student’s assault on another has not just resulted in the student’s arrest.
It got three students involved in the incident suspended.
Lely High School Principal Ken Fairbanks confirmed Monday that Alfredo David, 18, received a 10-day out-of-school suspension. David was arrested Friday and charged with felony battery after Collier County sheriff’s deputies responded to a complaint that he punched another student and then tried to pull him out of a car that was displaying a Confederate flag.
Fairbanks also said the victim and a third student, both of whom have not been identified, have also been given out-of-school suspensions for displaying the flag in the vehicle while it was still on school property and for their part in the incident. Fairbanks said the two were given the suspensions, but declined to say how long the students would be suspended, only that it was for less time than David was suspended.
“We take these things seriously,” Fairbanks said. “This is the first incident we have had this year. We are going to watch to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
According to police reports, the victim said he was approached by several Hispanic students while waiting for traffic to move as he was leaving Lely High School Friday afternoon. The victim said the Hispanic students were upset about his flag and that one of them walked up and punched it, according to reports.
The student reported that David taunted him to try to start a fight, punched him in the chest through an open driver’s side window and then tried to pull him out of the vehicle.
The victim held onto the steering wheel to keep from being pulled out of the car and then stepped on the accelerator to get to safety, according to sheriff’s reports.
David, whose address was listed as the 5000 block of Bryant Avenue, didn’t want to tell his side of the story, authorities said.
He has a prior conviction for battery, according to reports.
But the victim should not have been displaying a Confederate flag on Collier County School District property.
The Collier County School District has a policy that allows students to wear or display only certain flags on campus and at off campus, school-related activities. Those flags are: The United States and prisoner of war/missing in action flags; the state flag; and official school flags.
“The wearing or display of flags on our campuses has historically and currently caused dissension along with a potentially unsafe and hostile learning environment for our students,” according to the district’s Code of Student Conduct.
There are exceptions to the rule, including national flags on special occasions or in designated areas “consistent with the learning objectives of the district and at the discretion of the principal.” Lely High School, for example, has a “hall of nations” where the flags of the nationalities of all of the students and staff at the school are displayed in a hallway near the cafeteria.
Fairbanks said if school officials see flags that should not be displayed, the student is called down to the office and asked to take it down.
“The student in this case was not flying the flag during the school day,” he said. “He must have had it in the truck.”
The first time a student is called down, Fairbanks said, they receive a warning. The second time, it is considered disruption of a school function and the school follows the disciplinary recommendations set out by the Student Code of Conduct, Fairbanks said. But the students involved in Friday’s incident were suspended because they verbally escalated the incident, Fairbanks said.
Fairbanks said he tried not to make an issue out of Friday’s incident Monday at school. He said he planned to mention it at the end of the day during announcements.
“We are just going to remind them that midterms start this week and then we will go over bullying and harassment,” he said.