A popular substitute teacher says he was let go from a Missouri high school after thanking students for standing for the Pledge of Allegiance.
The teacher, 66-year-old Jim Furkin, had been a long-time sub at Parkway South High School in Manchester, Mo., as well at other schools, according to Fox 2 television.
“The PA announcer says please rise for the Pledge of Allegiance,” Furkin told Fox 2. “I say, ‘Let’s go.’”
Of the 24 students, 22 stood for the Pledge.
“I say, ‘thank-you very much, all of you that participated. I appreciate that. I’m sure all of those families that lost loved ones so we could have the freedoms we have today would appreciate that, too.’ That’s what I said,” Furkin added.
Furkin – who subbed at the school for a decade – said it was no different than complimenting one person for a hairstyle and not everyone else, Fox 2 reported.
At least one of the students complained, and Furkin soon was told he could no longer substitute at the school but could sub elsewhere. His action, he was told, was a form of bullying.
“I just think that I would try to convey something like that to the kids who just take everything for granted,” he said. “That flag is not to be taken for granted, in my opinion. It is our symbol of freedom.”
The school superintendent said Furkin was not let go because of the Pledge incident.
“While we cannot share details of individual personnel matters, we would not recommend that a substitute teacher be restricted from a school simply based on a single isolated incident such as this,” read a letter from the superintendent to parents and staff.
Furkin said he won’t sub in the district again.
“Yeah, I’ve had enough. That’s a shame,” he told Fox 2. “That’s what I’m going to miss. I’m going to miss the kids.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.