Substitute teacher says school banned him after he thanked students for saying Pledge

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A longtime substitute teacher at a Missouri high school said he was banned from working there after he thanked students for saying the Pledge of Allegiance, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Jim Furkin said he was the substitute teacher for a freshman English class at Parkway South High when the morning announcements came over the intercom. After the announcements, students are asked to stand up and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. 

“So I say, ‘All right, let’s go,’ and we recite the pledge,” Furkin told the newspaper. “There are always two or three who don’t stand up because it’s not required. So at the end of the pledge I said, ‘Thanks to all of you that participated in that. I’m sure that all of those families who lost loved ones so that we could enjoy the freedoms we have today would appreciate the effort.’”

After the pledge, a student asked to go to the school guidance counselor’s office, so Furkin wrote the child a pass. Later on, Furkin claims a school administrator told him the student complained and was “hurt” by his comments about the pledge. 

“I said, ‘Oh, I didn’t mean it that way, that wasn’t my intent at all,’” Furkin told the newspaper. “He said ‘We’ll get back to you,’ and then the next day after that, I’m no longer welcome in the building.”

Furkin claims Kelly Educational Staffing, which the school district uses to book substitute teachers, told him he was banned from the school because he had “bullied” a student.

“To me personally, the flag represents freedom, and there’s a lot of price that’s been paid for the freedom we have today,” Furkin said. “That’s all I’m saying to the kids. … Could somebody feel offended by that? I would hope not. But like I said at the (school board) meeting, when you say something, you don’t know how someone else is going to perceive it.”

A district spokeswoman wouldn’t comment on the case, but said students choose whether to participate in the pledge, “and our role as educators is not to make a judgment about that choice.”

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