Local News

Fayetteville teacher suspended for flag lesson on 1st amendment

Posted September 20, 2016
Updated September 21, 2016

— A Cumberland County high school teacher has been suspended after he stepped on an American flag as part of a history lesson on Monday.

A photo posted on Facebook shows Lee Francis, a history teacher at Massey Hill Classical High School in Fayetteville, standing over an American flag at the front of the class.

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

"I put the flag on the ground and I took two steps with my right foot and I said, 'This is an example of free speech,'" Francis said. "Two students got up and left immediately with no word, no disruption at all...I assumed something had happened. One student came to where I was and took the flag from me."

Francis has been suspended with pay in connection with the incident until he meets with Superintendent Dr. Frank Till on Thursday.

Francis, who has relatives in the military, said he did not intend to offend students, but wanted to drive home the Supreme Court's definition of free speech.

Melissa Ramos has a daughter at the school and a son who is stationed at Fort Bragg. She said she was furious about the demonstration and demanded that Francis be fired.

"Just personally, as a military family, to have someone do that, thank goodness she wasn't in that class because of her experiences having friends not come home," she said. "There are so many other ways that he could have taught that instead of trying to desecrate the flag that so many people in this country have fought so hard for.”

In a statement, Superintendent Dr. Frank Till Jr. said in a statement, "Clearly there are other ways to teach First Amendment rights without desecrating a flag. The situation is currently under investigation."

"I think he's right, absolutely there could be other ways to teach the subject, but in the same vein the way that I taught it can't necessarily be wrong," Francis said.

The Facebook post has gone viral with more than 10,000 shares.

The investigation is ongoing.


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  • Morgan le Fay Sep 22, 2016
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    I wonder how tolerant the Left would be if the American flag were substituted with a Palestinian or Mexican flag?

  • Pat Queen Sep 22, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    Beautifully illustrated. YOU should be a teacher.

  • Steven Cousler Sep 21, 2016
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    He's supposed to be teaching respect for our country and its symbols - if he doesn't understand this - he should not be teaching. If he wants to show examples of civil disobedience through books and movies - that's fine and educational. Personally enacting them in front of his class is not ok and lends far too much weight to a cause that may not deserve it.
    He's entitled to free speech on his own time - but not in front of our students. Otherwise we will be teaching them chaos.

  • Jackie Wacky Sep 21, 2016
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    So please Mr France's ,
    Do Let me know.
    Have you ever served in the military that protects and keeps safe us and our fellow Americans along with this beautiful land
    The United States Of America
    That we call home?
    If you have not, How dare you!
    If you have, How dare you! Signed Jackie God Bless our past present and future Military.

  • Gsp Winner Sep 21, 2016
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    The students who took up for their country are the true heroes.

  • Gsp Winner Sep 21, 2016
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    Those students are the heros.

  • John Lobenstein Sep 21, 2016
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    Lee Francis may technically have a right to freely express his interpretation of free speech by disrespecting our, well most people's, flag the rest of us also have the same freedom of expression to express our disgust with his "teaching" methods.

  • Benjamin Kite Sep 21, 2016
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    You'll get more out of life with sugar then you do with lemons. America NEEDS TO CHANGE, but it won't be anger that changes it. It will be love. That isn't idealism, that is the WISDOM of Martin Luther King.

  • K Hope Capps Sep 21, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    Well said!

  • K Hope Capps Sep 21, 2016
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    At the very least, that was a poorly thought out lesson plan. Especially in a military town.