South Carolina honors English teacher Scott Compton faces termination for stomping on an American flag last month as part of a lesson in three classes throughout the day, WIS-TV reports.
The Chapin High School teacher is currently on administrative leave as Lexington-Richland District 5 officials investigate the incident. Compton reportedly performed the act while teaching about symbols and their meaning, making the point that while the American flag is symbolic, the physical flag is merely a piece of cloth -- and his actions would have no ramifications.
"He drew a couple of symbols, like one of them was a cross, and he said, 'What does this represent,' and everybody said, 'Christianity,'" parent Michael Copeland told WIS-TV. "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."
While flag burning and desecration of the flag is legal -- and has been defended by the U.S. Supreme Court as a right under the First Amendment, Copeland calls the act disrespectful and unpatriotic. District spokesperson Mark Bounds told The State that the teacher's actions were unprofessional and inconsistent with conduct standards. The town's robust military community makes it a particularly sensitive issue, he told Fox News.
“Fort Jackson, the largest training base in the world is part of our community and you can see why this is especially important," Bounds said. “So many of our veterans have made sacrifices for that flag. We still have men and women deployed in service to our country and we do take this very seriously.”
Those who know Compton tell FITSNews, a South Carolina conservative news and entertainment website, that he is a good teacher who is "very liberal." And some are coming to the educator's defense. One commenter on Irmo-SevenOaks Patch said the "few" South Carolina teachers who expose students to broader perspectives should be praised and supported. Another commenter, writing under the alias "Common Sense," posts:
No, I do not think this teacher's actions were unpatriotic. I had this teacher for this class in the past and he taught the same lesson. His point was to show that a symbol does not have any value outside of what it represents, rather the concept is what matters. He is actually quite patriotic and wanted students to value an ideal rather than an object. Just because this student did not have the intellectual aptitude to understand this concept does not mean that the teacher is unpatriotic.
The complaints lodged against Compton come just two months after a social studies teacher at neighboring Dutch Fork High School was removed from the classroom for displaying a placard that reads, "The road to hell is paved with Democrats" in her government class.