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Cumberland County Schools won't renew contract of teacher who stepped on flag

Posted November 2, 2016

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— A Fayetteville teacher who came under fire for a lesson in which he stepped on an American flag will no longer be teaching in Cumberland County.

Lee Francis was a history teacher at Massey Hill Classical High School when a photo of him standing on an American flag as part of a September lesson on the first amendment went viral on Facebook, causing controversy.

Students said Francis tried to burn and cut the flag before dropping it on the floor. At least two students walked out of the classroom during the demonstration.

Francis was suspended from teaching at the school one day after the lesson.

One Wednesday afternoon, Francis met with Cumberland County Superintendent Frank Till and the Associate Superintendent for Human Resources. The pair decided against renewing Francis’ contract at the end of the year.

Cumberland County Schools wonât renew contract of teacher who stepped on flag

“The point of the lesson was to assure students, one, what their rights are; to let them know what their rights are. And now, the message has been to let people know that they have the access to think critically, to be inspired, to provoke thought even if it challenges the beliefs of another,” Francis said.

Francis said he will deliver the same first amendment lecture that was taught in the classroom to a large gathering on Nov. 16, but he will not be using the flag in the demonstration.


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  • John Smith Nov 3, 1:18 p.m.
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    The Bill of Rights protects citizens from overreach by The Government. Said government has not violated ANY of his rights, and like others have said: It may be his right, but he is not free from consequences.
    Best way I've seen it so far is "Your rights end where my nose begins"

  • Roger Chance Nov 3, 12:38 p.m.
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    Far better ways to demo 1st amend. This guy should never be allowed back in ANY classroom.

  • Daryl Hales Nov 3, 10:07 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

    Linda Talley,. That's just what we need more of these teachers in wake county. Teachers like him are creating the entitled class of students now.

  • Luke Pool Nov 3, 9:15 a.m.
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    The Court has given public high school officials the ability to restrict free speech if they see it as disruptive. Given the close ties to fort Bragg, what he did was beyond stupid , given the thousand other ways to demonstrate free speech. Linda Tally you need to go back to school. These kids with family serving no more about freedom than you could ever know. What he did was inflict emotional distress. Not protected by the way.

  • Luke Pool Nov 3, 9:09 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

  • Matt Clinton Nov 3, 9:07 a.m.
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    View quoted thread

    It IS his right. It's also their right not to renew his contract. There's no violation here and no conflict. His freedoms are still fully intact.

  • Linda Tally Nov 3, 7:45 a.m.
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    Cumberland County continues to impoverish its children and produce only more of same products who have to learn what freedom really means the hard way someplace else. Go for it, Cumberland - I'll take this teacher any day AND provide a pay raise.

  • Daryl Hales Nov 3, 7:44 a.m.
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    He made a choice. Now he has to live with that choice and suffer the consequences. In today's society, everyone wants to make choices and protest, even if it means breaking the law. Then state that it is free speech. However, they don't want to suffer the consequences from that choice. Right or wrong, when you choose, you have to take the outcome, good or bad.

  • Shiloh Barkley Nov 3, 7:11 a.m.
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    Apparently it wasn't his right :(

  • Kevin Yen Nov 2, 11:03 p.m.
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    come to wake county school!