It was framed as a “civics lesson,” but parents and students are not happy about a Fayetteville, North Carolina, teacher’s actions.
As ABC 11 reports, Massey Hill Classical High School teacher Lee Francis has been placed on administrative leave after school officials learned he had stomped on an American flag.
Alex Dunn, a student in the class who photographed Francis stepping on the flag, says that at first, the students were in awe of what Francis was doing. Then, they became angry.
“Why would an American want to do that to the flag?”
Dunn picked up the flag and marched out of the classroom. He feels personally offended, as his father is in the Army.
“He just has no respect, especially working in a military community.”
According to reports, Sara Taylor, a parent at the school, shared the photo and recounted the incident on Facebook. In her post, which has since been removed, she writes:
“That flag might not mean anything to that teacher, but it means a lot to us and it means a lot to the family’s who had their service member come home to them in a casket with that flagged draped over it.”
Francis, however, contends that he was making a statement of protected free speech. He defended his actions on Facebook, explaining that he was teaching a lesson on Texas v. Johnson, a Supreme Court case where the court held that desecrating the American flag was protected by the First Amendment.
Even still, other members of the community agree with Dunn and Taylor’s sentiments. Jimmy Butrrell tells ABC 11:
“It literally turned my stomach. It’s my flag. I served my country for my flag. I cannot see anyone desecrating my flag.”
For the school district’s part, superintendent Frank Till Jr. says he will refrain from commenting on the incident until more information is made available to him.