Six months after Denair Middle School student Cody Alicea made national headlines when he said he was asked to remove an American flag from his bicycle on school grounds, the facts surrounding the incident are still in question. The campus supervisor involved in the American flag incident made a statement to the DUSD Board of Trustees denying that she told Cody to remove the flag.“A school employee said some students have been complaining about my flag and I needed to take it down,” Alicea said on Nov. 12, 2010. “So I took it down. I was kind of mad and upset because I have been flying it for two months and all of a sudden its veterans’ week and it’s a problem.”
An internal memo written by Denair Unified School District Superintendent Ed Parraz to district staff was leaked to The Journal. The memo, dated March 9, recanted a previous statement made by Parraz regarding the entire course of events that took place last Veteran’s Day when Cody was believed to have been asked to remove a United States flag from his bike.
“The boy took the flag off his bike only after his mother had agreed that due to threats he was receiving, the flag should be put away while there was an investigation into who was threatening the student. At no time did a campus supervisor tell the boy to remove the flag,” Parraz wrote in the newly discovered memo.
The March memo is in direct conflict of a memo sent from Parraz to staff dated Nov. 12, which states, “This incident occurred on Monday, Nov. 8th when a campus supervisor asked one of our middle school students to remove an American flag from his bicycle while he was on school grounds.”
When asked by The Journal about the conflicting statements, Parraz said he was instructed to no longer speak with the media regarding the flag incident. Following that statement, The Journal filed a California Public Records Act request with the Denair Unified School District, requesting all written communications (including e-mails) between the superintendent and the Board of Trustees concerning the Cody Alicea American flag issue.
Included in that Public Records Act request was information about a complaint and resolution meeting between the campus supervisor “Jody,” California School Employees Association representative Kyle Harvey, Parraz and the Board of Trustees. In a December e-mail to DUSD Board President Carloyn Brown, Parraz wrote “Kyle Harvey (CSEA), stated Jody felt (she) was thrown under the bus on this issue.”
The resolution from that meeting included a directive from the Board of Trustees to Parraz to withdraw his initial memo (Nov. 12) to staff.
Jody wrote a confidential statement to the Board of Trustees, dated Dec. 15,which includes a differing set of events that happened in November with Cody and the American flag.
“Cody told me that students made comments and that he was being harassed by some high school students as he rode by. I told him that for his safety/ safety issues that he may want to take his flag off and talk to his mom about this and that I would talk to his mom also. Cody started to take his flag off his bike and I told him to leave it as I did not want it to get ruined and he should wait until he got home and talked to his mom. He said thank you Jody and went to class. At the end of the day, Cody got his bike (with his flag still on it) and rode across the quad and back before exiting through the gate. He then parked his bike out the front of the school for a few minutes also (on school security camera),” reads Jody’s statement.
Later in the statement, Jody goes on to write “Mrs. Kisner (Cody’s mother Daneen Kisner) said that she did not agree with Cody having to take his flag off of his bike, but she did agree that due to safety reasons that Cody should take it off until she came back to talk to Mr. Delworth (Denair Middle School principal) the next day or at the jog-a-thon.”
Kisner, in a letter to the Board of Trustees following the conflicting March 9 memo stated, “When Cody arrived at school at approximately 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 8, 2010 your campus supervisor told Cody to remove his flag from his bike and he was told that students were complaining. He was also told at the time by the campus supervisor that he could not fly his flag on school grounds, and he was told to put it away. Cody complied immediately by removing his flag from his bike and putting it in his backpack.” Later she wrote “I was able to talk to the campus supervisor about the problem. She then told me that he (the principal Mr. Delworth) had talked to her about Cody’s flag on the previous Friday and instructed her to have Cody remove his flag on Monday morning. During this conversation she told of their concern for Cody’s safety.”
After being read Jody’s statement Kisner said she wanted to hold her comments back with the exception; “It doesn’t settle well that people aren’t on the same page that were there when it happened.”
Jody was unavailable for comment for this story. When contacted by the Journal, CSEA representative Harvey declined to comment for this story but indicated his frustration with The Journal for printing what he called “lies.”He also said the media attention was ruining Jody’s life.Included in the Public Records Act request were numerous e-mails sent from a trustee member to Parraz questioning the honesty of Jody.
“Looks like Jody was lying. Can we now do something with (Jody)? Covering for (Jody) has bit the school district again. I’m tired of dealing with (Jody) and this situation,” wrote the trustee.
The DUSD trustee who wrote the e-mail declined to comment for this story.
But Kisner did have a statement about Jody.
“I don’t feel people’s jobs should be jeopardized. I feel this should be a gigantic learning experience for everyone involved.”
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