A Missouri substitute teacher claims that he was fired for thanking the kids for standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting. However, the school district says that Jim Furkin has a history of complaints and disciplinary issues, and that the latest incident was merely the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Until recently, Furkin had been a substitute teacher at Parkway Schools in suburban St. Louis. However, he was let go after a series of events that culminated in him getting fired after an incident involving the Pledge.
On his last day of work, according to KTVI-TV (St. Louis), Furkin, 66, had been sent to Parkway South High School, where he had taught almost daily for the past five years of his ten-year career with the district. He says that his troubles started with the daily pledge.
“The PA announcer says please rise for the pledge of allegiance. I say [to the students] ‘let’s go.’ The kids get up, 24 kids in class and 22 got up. I say, ‘thank you very much, all of you that participated. I appreciate that. I’m sure all of those families that lost loved ones so we could have the freedoms we have today would appreciate that, too.’ That’s what I said.”
One or more of the two students who did not stand for the pledge apparently complained, saying that Furkin’s words were tantamount to bullying. Furkin says that his superiors agreed, and he was told he was no longer welcome to teach at Parkway South, though he could still teach at other schools within the district. Furkin instead tendered his resignation.
Furkin’s former bosses say there is more to the story than what he (Furkin) claims. Parkway Superintendent Keith Marty says that Furkin had been the subject of several previous complaints.
“There has been an omission of important facts in this case. The truth is, we recommended that this substitute not return due to a pattern of inappropriate conduct.”
Specifically, Marty says that Furkin had previously been accused of “bullying” students who declined to stand for or participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. In another incident, Furkin was accused of video recording students without their permission. In another incident, Furkin was accused of violating district policy by sharing his personal contact information (his Twitter account) with students; students who then visited his Twitter account found “inappropriate” pictures.
Furkin says that all of those incidents were blown out of proportion, and that his ten-year career with the district, with only a couple of checks against it, speaks for itself. Furkin has since asked the Parkway School Board to take another look at his firing.