SAN FRANCISCO -

A federal appeals court is set to consider the case of three students who were sent home from a Northern California high school for refusing to remove shirts emblazoned with the American flag on Cinco de Mayo.

On Thursday the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will hear oral arguments after a lower court tossed out the case in 2011.

School officials argued that students' civil rights can be curtailed to ensure safety and limit disruptions. The lower court agreed and the students appealed.

The students wore the shirts on May 5, 2010. Mexicans celebrate that day as "Cinco de Mayo," and compare it to the United States' July Fourth observance. Unpleasant verbal exchanges and altercations marked the previous year's celebrations at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, 20 miles south of San Jose.