Student Speaks Out On Richland High Pledge Incident - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Student Speaks Out On Richland High Pledge Incident

RICHLAND, Wash. - KNDU is now hearing different versions of how a Richland High School teacher refused to let her students say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Administrators said it was an innocent mistake, but many students don't agree.

Anytime a flag is involved people definitely have an opinion. At first, school officials told KNDU this isn't a big deal. But after we ran the initial story we got several emails from students who said the teacher went too far.

"The announcement comes on and she's like, No, don't stand and say the pledge," said Jessica Clements, Richland High School Student.   

It was quite a shock. Students at Richland High School have recited the Pledge of Allegiance since Kindergarten. But Tuesday, French teacher Debbie Oliveras told her 2nd period class the religion in the pledge is "Silly" and she tried to force students not to say it.

"She told us all, No, don't stand, sit down. Then she came and pushed on me and someone else's shoulder to come sit back down in our seat," said Clements. 

(So she pushed you to sit down in your seat?)

 "Yes," she added. 

Mary Hulstine said her son told her he wasn't allowed to say the pledge either. Hulstine flies an American flag outside her front door. She said she's angry, and finds the incident deeply disturbing.

"She went against their constitutional rights, and I mean we're fighting for our freedoms right now, and she had no right to do what she did in class," said Mary Hulstine, mother of a student.    

However, Richland High School's principal said it was an innocent mistake.

"It was not, on her part, meant to be offensive.  She made a wrong choice. She made some flippant remarks," said Sergio Fossa, Richland High School Principal. 

Principal Fossa said he was surprised to hear to how the incident surfaced, but said the school is taking it very seriously.

Oliveras has tried to make amends. She apologized to her students and several parents.

Principal Fossa tells KNDU it won't happen again.

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