Principal: Teacher in Flag Flap Wants Closure

By Shawn Brouwer
|  Thursday, May 13, 2010  |  Updated 11:30 AM PDT
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Principal: Teacher in Flag Flap Wants Closure

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The principal of a Salinas school thrust in the national media spotlight over a drawing of the American flag said a teacher accused of calling the drawing offensive is ready to bring closure.

Earlier this month, a seventh-grader at Gavilan View Middle School said her teacher told her to stop drawing a picture of the American Flag and called it offensive before praising another student's drawing of President Obama.

It is one of two Bay Area story involving the American flag.  The other one happened in Morgan Hill when five students were asked to remove their flag t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo.

The Salinas story appears close to closure.   On Wednesday Gavilan View Principal John Gutierrez said he spoke with the teacher for the first time and said she is willing to meet with the parents and bring closure.

"And if that means an apology, absolutely," Gutierrez said.

On Wednesday, the superintendent of the Santa Rita School District spoke with MSNBC, while the girl who drew the picture spoke exclusively to KSBW TV in Salinas.  Watch Exclusive Video

"She said I couldn't draw it. I asked, 'Why?' She said because it was offensive, and I said, 'Why?' And she walked off," Taryn Hathaway, 13, said.

Hathaway and her parents met with the art teacher and an assistant principal a week later but nothing was resolved.

"She denied it at first and when we said there was a witnesses she backtracked and said, 'Well, I could have said it. I have 180 kids, I could have, but I don't remember. But I could have,'" Hathaway said.

Meanwhile, the teacher has never publicly admitted to calling the drawing offensive.

But Hathaway said the conflict escalated after the meeting when her teacher scolded her.

"After we had the meeting, she said 'Your parents should have never gotten involved in this, the principal shouldn't have gotten involved in this, we should have been the only ones involved in this, you and me,'" Hathaway said.

Santa Rita District Superintendent Mike Brusa was kept out of the situation until this week, when coverage of the story blew up in the local and national media.

Since then, the district and school officials have received hundreds of complaints form people across the country, through e-mails and phone messages.

In a conversation with MSNBC, Brusa said, "We would like to work out the situation with the parents. I think based on what we've heard we can do that but determining what happened exactly at this point. Because so much has been said, (it) may be very difficult to do."

As for the Hathaways, they said an apology is all they ever asked for.

"I'm happy to hear she's ready to do that," said Tracy Hathaway, Taryn's mother. "Once that happens, this will all be put behind us."

This article originally appeared on KSBW.com.

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