Cinco de Mayo dispute at Fairmont Elementary over Mexican flags: DPS responds

Fairmont students, from Channel 31's coverage.
Fairmont students, from Channel 31's coverage.

It certainly seemed like a timely story: Students at Golden's Fairmont Elementary told Channel 31's Leland Vittert that they were suspended for displaying Mexican flags on Cinco de Mayo yesterday.

But Denver Public Schools spokesman Michael Vaughn says these assertions are simply inaccurate. He's told by school administrators that the students were punished in large part because they were told to return to class and didn't.

"We certainly want our schools to encourage celebration of cultural diversity," he says. "But we also want kids to be in class when they're supposed to be."

Vaughn's words echo those of DPS spokesman Alex Sanchez, who spoke on camera for the Channel 31 piece. However, the tenor of the Sanchez interview footage is mildly confrontational, suggesting from a tonal standpoint, at least, that he has something to hide. Vaughn emphasizes that nothing could be further from the truth.

"I talked to the principal [Elizabeth Tencate] several times yesterday, and she emphasized that it had nothing to do with the flags themselves," he says. "Recess was over, and they felt the students should be back in class. And they were given several opportunities to go back. Some students did and some students didn't -- they were being disruptive and not listening to the assistant principal. And the ones who didn't go back were disciplined as a result."

Here's the Channel 31 report:

 

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