A North Carolina teacher is in hot water after being caught on camera appearing to stomp on an American flag in the classroom as part of a lesson on free speech and the First Amendment, the Fayetteville Observer is reporting.
Sara Taylor is a parent of a student at Massey Hill Classical High School, where Lee Francis teaches history. Although Taylor’s son or daughter does not attend any of Mr. Francis’ classes, Taylor’s child somehow came into possession of a picture that appears to show Francis with a crumpled-up American flag at his feet.
Outraged, Taylor posted the photo to Facebook, along with an explanation of how it came about.
“Excuse me, THIS is part of their curriculum?!?!”
According to Taylor’s explanation, Francis produced the flag and then asked the students if anyone had a lighter or scissors (unlikely, since most schools forbid students from having such things on their person). When no one produced either of those, Francis “stomped all over” the flag.
Francis, for his part, has not spoken to the media, telling a Fayetteville Observer reporter that he needed to “talk to his supervisor” before talking to the media. According to the Observer, Francis had, at one time, attempted to defend himself on his Facebook page. However, as of this writing, Francis’ page is set to private and does not show any public posts.
According to the Observer, Francis claimed that he was attempting to teach the class about Texas v. Johnson, a Supreme Court decision that ruled that flag desecration is a constitutional right protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to free speech.
“The rest of the class understood. I don’t even teach the student of this Sara Taylor person.”
Actually, Francis’ claim that the “rest of the class understood” is disputed by Sara Taylor.
“A few students left the classroom and one took the flag with them and asked that it properly taken care of.”
As of this writing, school officials are keeping mum about the incident. Cumberland County Superintendent Frank Till Jr. told the Observer that he intends to wait until he has all the facts before making any decisions about the alleged flag-stomping incident. Till did, however, speak in generalities about appropriate and inappropriate ways to teach such a lesson.
“There are multiple examples of people doing something like that and being protected,” Till said. “There are a lot of examples in archives we could use that were appropriate.”
Similarly, according to Ms. Taylor, Massey principal “Dr. Adams” isn’t talking, either.
“The principal told me I will not be allowed to know what happens with this teacher because my student was not in his classroom. I told her that she is in charge of her school, her teachers, and I should have the right to know what is going on in my child’s school. I asked if she would be letting the superintendent in on this and she stated ‘No, this is an in house matter.'”
Needless to say, Mr. Francis’ lesson is stirring up strong emotions. Several commenters have expressed their outrage on Taylor’s Facebook page, where she posted the photo.
Evie Dyson Bazaldua “Just so wrong!!!!! I’m sharing to get it all over here!”
Arden Marie Baker “oh wow! I am speachless [sic]!!!”
Do you believe Mr. Francis was in the wrong to stomp on the American flag for a lesson about free speech?
[Feature Image by Sara Taylor/Facebook]