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Community demands answers at heated school board meeting
angry denair pic1
Denair Superintendent Ed Parraz shakes hands with eighth grade student Cody Alicea at the parade and rally held before school on Monday. - photo by Photo courtesy of Ray Houlihan

The Denair Unified School District adopted the new “Choose Civility” initiative led by the county office of education at their Thursday board meeting, despite the lack of civility shown by a few audience members.

Community members filled the district meeting room on Thursday. Many expressed their desire to know the truth about the flag flap that started when eighth grader Cody Alicea was asked to remove an American flag off of his bike last week.

“I would like to know the truth,” said Melinda Mason, Modesto resident. “I want to know why someone was asked to take down an American flag in a school yard in America.”

When board members announced they could not discuss the issue because it was not an agenda item, an uproar of angry comments from the community echoed throughout the board room.

“When will it be placed on the agenda?”  “I am only asking for the story;” and “we need to look at voting for different board members,” were hollered by a boisterous crowd.

“We have not discussed it as a board because we have to have that on an agenda to do that,” said Carolyn Brown, DUSD Board of Trustees president. “This agenda was put together last Tuesday before any of this came about Wednesday, late Wednesday night. So we have certain procedures we need to follow. We have the Brown Act we need to follow. We have an agenda and we need to go on.”

Community members requested the American flag issue be placed on the agenda for the next school board meeting, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 9. in the leadership/board room at the district office. 

Concerns were also voiced about the lack of notification to Alicea’s parents, as well as other parents who have children attending Denair Middle School, about reported threats made against Alicea for flying the flag.

“I want to know about threats at the school if they are so serious a student has to remove their American flag,” said Chelsea Wilson, Denair resident. “I was not aware of the danger at the school.”

Robert Kisner, Alicea’s stepfather, said he had no idea his son was being threatened at school.

The alleged threats were made by students at school, which led to the initial decision to ask Alicea to remove his flag for his safety, according to the district.

“Nobody told me my son was being threatened,” Kisner said.  

DUSD Superintendent Ed Parraz assured community members that district policies would be evaluated.

“Our intent is to learn from this experience,” Parraz said. “We will look into the policies and protocols and refine them so this won’t happen again. Maybe this can be a blueprint for other schools experiencing the same things we are.”

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.