State News

Board upholds suspension for teacher who stepped on flag

Posted 6:45 a.m. Thursday
Updated 7:45 a.m. Thursday

Lee Francis

— A North Carolina school board has upheld the 10-day suspension of a high school teacher who stepped on the American flag during a First Amendment lesson.

The Cumberland County Board of Education voted 5-2 Wednesday to support Superintendent Frank Till's decision. Board members considered Lee Francis' appeal for more than eight hours behind closed doors.

Whether Lee returns to his job teaching history at Massey Hill Classical High School rests with Till.

Lee has been working in the district office since Till recommended the unpaid suspension in September.

He says he was teaching about a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that flag desecration is protected speech. Francis says he stepped on the flag several times with his right foot.

One of two students who left the classroom took the flag.


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  • Linda Tally Dec 1, 5:42 p.m.
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    Guess not everybody's flag is as durable as mine - or their ideas of honor aren't. What he stepped on was a piece of fabric. He didn't touch the honor of MY flag.

  • Byrd Ferguson Dec 1, 4:25 p.m.
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    I'd like to know which two board members voted against the suspension.

  • Matt Clinton Dec 1, 8:53 a.m.
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    For those talking about free speech, there is no free speech issue here. He has not been criminally punished for his speech or actions. His employer has simply decided it no longer wishes to associate with him, which is perfectly within their rights and is not in violation of his. Some of you need to refrain from posting until you know what you're talking about unless you like looking bad online.

  • Matt Nickeson Dec 1, 8:51 a.m.
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    It is interesting that many of the same liberals who advocate for trigger warnings for even displaying the flag because it causes emotional unrest in some have no concept that some of the students in that classroom could have lost a mother or father fighting for the country the flag represents. I guess that feelings only matter if they are the right (left?) ones.

  • Amy Whaley Dec 1, 8:34 a.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    While this article leads one to believe that it was just a student or two who were upset, there is much more to this story. Just use Google. This wasn't just an innocent lesson on free speech.

  • Jeff Freuler Dec 1, 8:06 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

    When you are on someone else's time how you display your freedom of speech can have consequences.

  • Thomas White Dec 1, 7:53 a.m.
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    Desecrating the flag is considered free speech. To punish a man for teaching students this lesson is wrong. Either we have free speech or we don't. Of course the teacher did not need to step on the flag to show his point, but he should not be suspended because a student did not like the lesson. Maybe we could learn more about what the lesson the teacher was going over to see if his point is justified.