Teacher in military community who stomped on flag receives discipline

The North Carolina history teacher who enraged military families at Fort Bragg will face discipline for his “First Amendment class exercise”.

A week ago, a picture -posted by a parent of a student at the school- of Lee  Francis stepping on the American flag in front of his class went viral.

Francis has been teaching history at Massey Hill Classical High School in Fayetteville since finishing graduate school at the University of North Carolina in December of 2015, according to his Facebook page.

On Friday, Cumberland County Superintendent Dr. Frank Till said Francis will face discipline for his actions but did not specify the nature of the punishment.

According to the Fayetteville Observer, Francis has been suspended for 10 days without pay.  Francis received a letter from Superintendent Till to give his notice of his 10-day suspension.

“The grounds for your disciplinary suspension without pay for a period of 10 days are neglect of duty, failure to fulfill the duties and responsibilities imposed upon teachers or school administrators by the General Statutes of this state, and failure to comply with such reasonable requirements as the board may prescribe,” the letter said.

Superintendent Till made his decision after meeting with Francis and reviewing statements from students and staff.

“I have concluded that the actions of Mr. Francis were not an act of civil disobedience by the school or the Cumberland County Central Services. All agree that his actions were inappropriate. Therefore, I have determined discipline is appropriate based on violating our policies,” Till said.

After meeting with Till, Francis still stood by his decision to desecrate the flag in front of his students.

“What I was trying to convey to my students is (that) freedom of speech is more than something that’s verbal, it’s more than something that can be written down. Freedom of speech also includes the burning of the flag,” Francis said.

Even though flag desecration is a misdemeanor in North Carolina, the Cumberland County district attorney is not charging Francis with any crime because the  Supreme Court decision overrides state law.

Francis and his Army veteran attorney, Allen Rogers, said they will submit a letter of appeal to the school board this week.  Francis has 15 days to request a hearing before the nine-member board.

Massey Hill Classical High School is twelve miles from Fort Bragg, which is considered to be the largest military base in the world in terms of population.  The base is home for around 50,000 soldiers in the 82nd Airborne Division and the Army’s Special Forces.

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