Flag Stomping Could Cost South Carolina Teacher His Job
Scott Compton, a South Carolina high school teacher, is facing possible dismissal by his school board for stomping on an American flag in three of his classes last month.
Compton, who teaches honors English at Chapin High School, has been with the school for seven years, but the tenure of his job is now in question as the Lexington-Richland 5 school board will decide whether or not to dismiss the teacher for his actions.
Michael Copeland, the father of one of Compton's students, told local WIS-TV News that he heard about what had happened from his daughter.
"He drew a couple of symbols, like one of them was a cross, and he said, 'What does this represent?' and everybody said, 'Christianity,'" said Copeland.
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"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."
But Compton's attorney, Darryl Smalls, says that's not entirely how the story went down, according to WIS-TV. He claims that his client was trying to promote an "inspirational idea," greater than the "material objects that represent it" while teaching a lesson to his students about symbolism
In an email statement sent to WIS, Smalls said that Compton "made only positive comments about America throughout this lesson." And he claims that "the version of events currently circulating is incomplete."
"My client has had an exemplary twelve-year teaching career and was only trying to create a forum for discussion using a powerful symbol with which all his students would be familiar."
Smalls continues, "He meant no intentional disrespect to those men and women who served our country or to America itself."
However, people of the South Carolinian community were outraged. Mark Bounds, public information officer for the Lexington-Richland 5 school district, said that people were offended because their community is a very patriotic one.
Bonds said that the actions taken by Mr. Compton were "not consistent with the values of the community."
The school board became aware of Compton's allegedly unpatriotic act after receiving numerous complaints from parents. Bounds told ABC News that they found out about this issue from a concerned parent who sent an email to the district, leaders in the community and various media sources.
"We conducted an exhaustive investigation right before Christmas break, but the full investigation took a few weeks because the kids were not in school."
Bounds continued, "We interviewed Mr. Compton yesterday to complete the investigation. We had all the facts and we wanted to give him the opportunity to explain himself."
Though there is speculation throughout the community, the reason for the flag stomping has not been released by the board. According to Bounds, it is a "personnel" action that they cannot comment on due to the sensitive nature of his case.
The future of Compton's teaching career is now in the hands of the school board.
"The superintendent thought the best course of action for Compton is termination," Bounds told ABC News. "But the case has to go to the local board and they will ultimately decide whether or not to support the superintendent's decision."
Neither Compton nor Smalls could be reached by ABCNews.com for comment.