Clovis East student and teacher clash over Pledge of Allegiance, says report

The report says Ken Dias told the student to 'Go back to your country'

CLOVIS, Calif. - A freshman at Clovis East High School says her teacher reprimanded her for sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance and allegedly told her to 'Go back to her country'.

The district spokesperson says in general, a report expressing concerns that standards aren't being met by staff will be investigated. In this case, there are allegations of a well known teacher saying racial slurs to a student. 

According to the incident report filed last Wednesday, Clovis East freshman Thaila Luna claims her agriculture teacher snatched her phone away after she sat through the Pledge of Allegiance.

The report states Ken Dias then called Luna a disgrace and said 'Go back to your country'. Luna's mother says the US is her country.

"Her dad's background is Hispanic and then her mom is Asian so what is she supposed to choose? She don't have to choose. She's American," said Bon Phommavong, Luna's mother.

In 2015, Dias earned the Outstanding Teacher Award at the California Agricultural Teachers' Association conference. 

District officials say reports expressing concerns about staff members are taken seriously. 

"We will not only investigate the allegation but we will also determine if the staff member should be placed on paid leave while the investigation takes place," reads a statement by the district.

"She's not sitting because she's protesting the military. That's like not what it's about," said Phommavong.

Phommavong says this isn't the first time her daughter has sat during the Pledge of Allegiance. Luna's report says Dias continued to yell at her across the room and when a student started to cry and asked him to stop, he told her to 'shut up'.

Clovis Unified says students have the right to opt out of the Pledge and staff should not interfere with their free speech. 

"A student would not be disciplined for peacefully electing to opt out of a patriotic observance," reads the statement.

"Honestly, I don't think the teacher should say anything to them. If they have the right to, then why say anything?," asked Phommavong.

Phommavong says her daughter is getting out of Dias' class and another student claims that she along with many students will sit during the Pledge of Allegiance starting Tuesday.


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