A North Carolina high school teacher who stomped on the American flag as part of a lesson the First Amendment was suspended without pay by the school. On Wednesday, the county school board voted 5-2 in favor of upholding the 10-day suspension after an 8-hour meeting behind closed doors.
Lee Francis teaches history at Massey Hill Classical High School in Fayetteville, The Fayetteville Observer reported. During a lesson on Texas v. Johnson, the 1989 Supreme Court ruling that protected flag desecration as acceptable free speech, Francis placed a flag on the ground and stepped on it several times.
Two students left Francis’ classroom in protest and reported his actions to administrators, with one of the students taking the flag with him.
Francis has been reassigned to the Cumberland County Schools Operation Center as a result of the suspension. Superintendent Frank Till Jr. will ultimately determine whether Francis will resume teaching, claiming that he will not issue a verdict until after the winter break.
Francis and his attorney, Allen Rogers, have suggested that they could once again appeal the school board’s decision to Superior Court. The schoolteacher also complained that two board members were not present during the high-profile hearing.
Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West stated that his office will not pursue flag desecration charges against Francis, which is punishable as a misdemeanor in North Carolina but would presumably be overridden by federal law.