A North Carolina teacher is coming under fire for his slightly unconventional teaching methods that he said was an attempt to educate students about their first amendment rights.
American history teacher Lee Francis was in the middle of teaching his eleventh-grade class at Massey Hill Classical High School in Fayetteville when students said he asked if anyone had a lighter. He later threw the American flag on the classroom floor and placed his foot on it in demonstration.
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Francis maintains that the gesture was part of his attempt to facilitate a class discussion to educate the students about the First Amendment, but some of those present in the class took offense to his efforts.
“The flag might not mean anything to that teacher, but it means a lot to us and it means a lot to the family’s [sic] who had their service member come home to them in a casket with that flag draped over it,” one student wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post according to BuzzFeed.
Despite the students’ claims, Francis says he did not stomp on the flag, but instead tapped his toe on it during the classroom incident. The educator says he’s found the amount of backlash he’s received from the military community over his actions disappointing.
“I’ve received a lot of backlash from the military community which is unfortunate because I have the utmost respect for our men and women in uniform and for our symbols,” he told BuzzFeed.
“But I also have respect for the laws that make this country what it is.”
Francis also didn’t hesitate to point out that he believed the negative reaction to his actions were racially motivated.
“If I didn’t have the skin color I have maybe I wouldn’t be in this position,” he added.
Francis has been placed on administrative leave as the school investigates the incident.