A South Carolina school district has launched an investigation into a high school teacher who allegedly threw an American flag on the floor and stomped on it as a classroom full of students watched.
Mark Bounds, a spokesman for the Lexington –Richland5 School District, confirmed to Fox News that an English teacher at Chapin High School was placed on leave as they investigate the incident.
“There were allegations that at a teacher took a flag down from the post in the classroom and stepped on that flag as part of the lesson,” Bounds said, indicating the act was repeated in several other classes. “It was not a spontaneous act, but one he worked into the lesson.”
He said there was “sufficient evidence that the teacher needed to be put on administrative leave and a full investigation needed to take place.”
Bounds said they could not provide additional information because it was a personnel matter – but he stressed that the school district took the matter extremely seriously.
“We have a very patriotic community with many military veterans,” he said. “Fort Jackson, the largest training base in the world is part of our community and you can see why this is especially important.”
Michael Copeland’s daughter was in the classroom when the incident occurred. He told television station WIS that the teacher’s actions were disrespectful and unpatriotic.
“He drew a couple of symbols, like one of them was a cross, and he said, ‘What does this represent’ and everybody said ‘Christianity,’” Copeland said. “Then he proceeds to take down the American flag and said, ‘This is a symbol, but it’s only a piece of cloth. It doesn’t mean anything,’ and then he throws it down on the floor and then stomps on it, repeatedly.”
Malcolm Kline, executive director of Accuracy in Academia, told Fox News he was impressed that the school district took action.
“I’m astounded by this,” said Kline, whose organization exposes political bias in public school classrooms. “What you usually hear is students suspended for actually wearing an American flag.”
“I would have expected something like that somewhere in the northeast rather than below the Mason-Dixon line,” he added.
Bounds, who served 20 years in the military, stressed the seriousness of the incident.
“So many of our veterans have made sacrifices for that flag,” he said. “We still have men and women deployed in service to our country and we do take this very seriously.”
“We want to make sure our classrooms are unbiased of teacher’s personal opinions,” he said. “By the same token we want to give the teacher every opportunity to demonstrate what was going on the classroom at that time.”
But the unidentified teacher does have some supporters.
“There are so few teachers in South Carolina willing to show students a broader perspective,” one person wrote on the local Patch website. “When we are lucky enough to have one, they should be supported, not undermined. Obviously the administration and parents need to sit in on the lesson and listen as well.”