California Catholic School Bars 13-Year-Old Student from Delivering ‘Patriotic Speech’

boy with American flag
Getty Images/Mariia Vitkovska

A California Catholic middle school student was “completely humiliated” by his principal forbidding him from delivering his speech on patriotism before calling the cops on his father for confronting her.

Jimmy Heyward, a 13-year-old student at Saint Bonaventure Catholic School in Orange County, spent hours on his campaign speech as he ran for Commissioner of School Spirit and Patriotism, his parents said. 

His mom, Hattie Ruggles, claimed in a petition that principal Mary Flock told Jimmy to remove “everything about patriotism” from his speech, “even though ‘Patriotism’ was a part of the position’s title that he was running for.”

The speech features Jimmy calling for students to respect the National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, veterans, and other typical aspects of American patriotism.

Jimmy even stated in his speech that he wanted to “coordinate with Ms. Flock” to organize events for “Holocaust survivors, 9/11 survivors, Japanese-Americans from internment camps, and more.”

“My love for America is my motivation for running,” the teen said. “It is an honor to live in this country.”

A video of Jimmy delivering his full speech at home also features the outspoken student wearing a red hat with the words “Make SBS [Saint Bonaventure School] Great Again.”

“Jimmy stood up to her and said he wasn’t going to take the parts about patriotism out of his speech,” Ruggles wrote on, calling for Flock’s termination. “She then told him he would not be speaking. Jimmy sat on stage with all the other candidates while they said their speeches.”

“Mary Flock directed the kids hosting the rally to skip Jimmy entirely. He was on the stage for an hour in front of his peers/teachers/parents being completely humiliated by Mary Flock,” the mother said.

After seeing his young son have to sit out, Jimmy’s dad, Ed Heyward, stood up and confronted Flock and vice principal Caleb McFerran.

The administrators did not let Jimmy speak because “his views didn’t align with theirs,” the disgruntled parents said.

It wasn’t long before Flock called the Huntington Beach Police Department to the school to remove the upset father.

However, responding officers spoke with Heyward and said he was “free to stay and watch with the rest of the families in attendance,” Ruggles stated in the petition. 

“When the officers were leaving they asked Ed to let Jimmy know that they said ‘Thank you’ for the things he wrote in his speech,” she added.

Later that day, Flock sent an email home to SBS parents “completely lying about what truly happened earlier in the day,” Ruggles continued. 

Screenshots of the alleged email obtained by Fox News show Flock saying Jimmy was not allowed to speak because he did not edit it to gain approval, and that the police were called on his father to “ensure the safety and well-being of those present.”

“This incident reminds us of the importance of maintaining a respectful and inclusive environment within our school community,” the email stated.

Ruggles claims that Flock lied in her message.

“This kind of behavior is unacceptable and does not align with the values we expect from our school’s leadership. We demand that Mary Flock be removed as principal immediately,” she wrote on

SBS doubled down on their decision to have Jimmy sit out from the candidate speeches in a statement to Fox News.

St. Bonaventure Catholic School is dedicated to fostering a Catholic, Christ-centered learning environment that builds a community valuing respect and integrity. We encourage freedom of speech, recognizing that allowing students to express their thoughts and ideas is crucial for their growth and development. In line with this, our longstanding policy requires all student speeches delivered on campus to undergo an administrative approval process. This practice ensures that the content is appropriate, aligns with school values and our Christian Code of Conduct, and maintains a respectful tone. The process is applied uniformly to all students without exception.

If a speech does not receive final approval, we adhere to our established guidelines, which means the student will not be permitted to deliver the speech. In this recent case, school administrators felt encouraged by the words of patriotism but were discouraged by what is perceived as some negative comments and sought adjustments to make it more positive.

We understand the disappointment the recent situation may have caused. However, to preserve the integrity of St. Bonaventure School’s practices and its Christ-centered learning environment, we stand by our decision and our policies. We remain committed to maintaining a consistent and fair approach for all students.

A follow-up Instagram post from Ruggles claims that multiple parents approached the family after the assembly to offer their support, and stated they were “blown away” by the administration’s actions. 

“This isn’t the first this lady has done something like this,” the mom wrote, without elaborating. 

Since it was posted Sunday, the petition to get Flock fired has garnered over 4,500 signatures.


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