For RSS

School: Teacher bullied students who refused to stand for pledge—by thanking students who did stand

A St. Louis-area school district accused a longtime substitute teacher of bullying students who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance — because he thanked students in class who did stand for the pledge. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

A St. Louis-area school district accused a longtime substitute teacher of bullying students who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance — because he thanked students in class who did stand for the pledge, KTVI-TV reported.

Say what?

“The PA announcer says, 'Please rise for the Pledge of Allegiance.' I say, ‘Let’s go,’" Jim Furkin recounted to the station, placing his hand over his heart. "The kids get up ... 24 kids in class; 22 got up ... I say, ‘Thank you very much all of you that participated. I appreciate that. And I’m sure all of those families that lost loved ones so that we could have the freedoms that we have today would appreciate that, too.’ And that’s what I said.”

Image source: KTVI-TV video screenshot

Well, at least one student in the classroom at Parkway South High School in Manchester who refused to stand for the pledge felt singled out and bullied, KTVI reported.

And according to a letter to parents and staff from Parkway School District Superintendent Keith Marty, "the substitute’s comments caused disruption during class. By praising certain students for standing, the students who made the decision not to stand were humiliated and then teased," the station said.

Furkin's act was considered “bullying,” KTVI reported, citing a district spokeswoman, and he was told to not return to the high school where he's been substituting nearly every day for the last five years. He was permitted to substitute at other schools in the district, the station said.

The sub strikes back

Furkin, 66, was seen on video giving a piece of his mind to the school board, noting to members that the decision to ban him from the school for bullying is akin to the board banning him from future meetings for complimenting one board member's hairstyle and another board member getting offended because he didn't compliment that other member's hairstyle.

Image source: KTVI-TV video screenshot

Furkin has been a district substitute for about 10 years, KTVI said, and he told the board last week he was through.

"That flag is not to be taken for granted, in my opinion," Furkin told the station. "It is our symbol of freedom."

What else did the school district say?

The superintendent's letter to parents and staff, while not mentioning Furkin's name, added that the decision to ban him from Parkway South High School was due to "a pattern of inappropriate conduct," and not just the pledge incident, KTVI said.

More from the letter, according to the station:

The employee was previously restricted from another Parkway high school for recording video of students without their permission in class. In addition, he violated appropriate teacher-to-student interactions by sharing his personal contact information with students at South High. Based on previous concerns from staff and students, the principal of South High addressed these matters with the substitute teacher. The substitute was coached and reminded of his professional obligations.

Unfortunately, he did not maintain the high standards we expect of adults who work with our children. It is worth noting that during the recent incident regarding the pledge, the substitute’s comments caused disruption during class. By praising certain students for standing, the students who made the decision not to stand were humiliated and then teased. The class environment did not cultivate an atmosphere of learning and acceptance of the views and values of others. As you know, our mission and vision are integral parts of teaching and learning in Parkway.

By the way, if you're wondering what Parkway South High School's mascot is — it's the Patriots.

Image source: KTVI-TV video screenshot

Here's the video report:

One last thing…
Watch TheBlaze live and on demand on any device, anywhere, anytime.
try premium
Exclusive video
All Videos
Watch live and on demand on any device, anywhere, anytime.
Try It FREE for 30 Days
Worth a look
Newsletter

Get the news that matters most delivered to your inbox.