Another flag-related controversy is unfolding in St. Louis, Missouri.
A 66-year-old substitute teacher has been told not return to Parkway South High School after he thanked students who participated in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Interestingly, the school nickname is the “Patriots.”
Jim Furkin told Fox 2 that he’s been a substitute teacher in the district for around a decade and substitute at this school almost everyday for the last five years. He said that when the school PA announcer said it was time for the pledge, he said the following: “I say ‘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.”
“I just think that I would try to convey something like that to the kids who just take everything for granted. That flag is not to be taken for granted, in my opinion. It is our symbol of freedom,” he added.
One of the two students who didn’t participate reportedly felt that they were “singled out and bullied,” and “hurt” by his comments. Furkin said that wasn’t his intent. The incident happened last month.
Furkin maintains that he did nothing wrong, but Parkway Superintendent Keith Marty said Furkin had a “pattern of inappropriate conduct,” and was therefore told not to return to this school. Of the Pledge incident itself, Marty said it was “worth noting” Furkin’s comments “caused disruption during class.”
“By praising certain students for standing, the students who made the decision not to stand were humiliated and then teased. The class environment did not cultivate an atmosphere of learning and acceptance of the views and values of others,” Marty said. “As you know, our mission and vision are integral parts of teaching and learning in Parkway.”
As for the Pledge of Allegiance, Marty said “We proudly recite our Pledge of Allegiance in all Parkway schools and classrooms. Students choose to participate, which is their right, and our role as educators is not to make a judgment about that choice.”
The superintendent backed Furkin’s ouster by saying that there were “[s]everal factors” behind the decision, “including prior concerns at other schools.”
“The employee was previously restricted from another Parkway high school for recording video of students without their permission in class. In addition, he violated appropriate teacher-to-student interactions by sharing his personal contact information with students at South High,” Marty said. “Based on previous concerns from staff and students, the principal of South High addressed these matters with the substitute teacher. The substitute was coached and reminded of his professional obligations.”
[Image via Fox 2 screengrab]