Spokane educator explains why she refused to wear a mask at Finch Elementary

SPOKANE, Wash.– Several educators, including the principal, refused to mask up Tuesday at Finch Elementary School.

One of them talked exclusively to 4 News Now about her decision to break the rules.

Natalie Poulson is a special education specialist for Spokane Public Schools.  She said on Tuesday she decided not to wear a mask to work while at Finch Elementary.

“I chose to use my first amendment right to peaceably protest,” Poulson said.

She said around 10:30 a.m. she was confronted by school district administrators who asked her to put a mask on.

“I just simply said, ‘no thank you.”

Poulson wasn’t the only one who refused to wear a mask. The school’s principal and another staff member wouldn’t put one on either.

“I think it’s the fact that it’s so hypocritical that you can go anywhere. That you can go sit down and have a nice dinner and not wear a mask, but you can’t sit at school three feet apart from everyone and not wear a mask,” Poulson said.

Poulson claims the mandate is unlawful. However, state law says that under Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency powers, he has the authority to issue orders as long as it “preserves and maintains life.” Poulson believes it’s taking people’s rights away.

She said she was really hoping the school district would hear them out. She said she’s tried to go to the school board and submit letters. Poulson said she feels like no one is listening and hopes to have a conversation with school district leaders.

Right now, she’s on administrative leave. She said she plans to keep looking at her rights as a person.

Spokane Public Schools would not answer any of our specific questions but did send this statement:

This morning, SPS’s district leadership was informed of a few staff members and administrator at Finch Elementary School that chose not to adhere to the Governor’s mandate that requires all staff and students to wear a face mask. SPS’s district staff quickly addressed the incident, with limited impact to the classroom and school environment. Although we respect the varying opinions that exist regarding masks, we are required to follow the mandate and have taken the appropriate steps to ensure the situation is addressed.”

PREVIOUS: Finch Elementary employees, principal escorted out for refusing to wear masks, sources say

RELATED: A look at the laws that allow the state to issue a face mask mandate

RELATED: No COVID vaccine mandate expected for Washington students, but kids will likely wear masks all school year