The teacher who desecrated the American flag inside a North Carolina classroom told me he has no regrets and wants the student who photographed him to be punished.
Lee Francis, a first year history teacher at Massey Hill Classical High School in Fayetteville, has been placed on administrative leave while the school district investigates the incident.
Francis admitted stomping on an American flag Monday during a lesson on the First Amendment. A photo of the incident, taken by a student, was posted on Facebook and went viral.
“Do I regret what I did? Absolutely not,” Mr. Francis told me in an exclusive telephone interview. “Would I do it again? All I can say is I did it and I stand by it.”
Mr. Francis said he has obtained legal counsel.
“There were some laws broken as far as photos of me taken that violate the county’s policies – and issues that could be considered defamation of character,” he said.
He said the student who snapped the photo of the flag desecration “broke the law.”
“I believe that child does need to be punished in some way – absolutely,” he said. “I can’t take a picture of them and in turn they cannot do the same of me.”
Mr. Francis confirmed most of the events as they were reported by local news organizations – including the actions of a young patriot.
He said the student got up from his desk, took the desecrated flag and left the classroom.
“I don’t personally blame the children,” the teacher told me. “This is exactly what America is about. This is exactly what freedom of speech is about – freedom of protest. You stand upf or what you believe in. Whether or not I agree is not really the point.”
And based on the outrage posted on my Facebook page, many residents around Fayetteville and nearby Fort Bragg do not agree with the teacher’s actions.
“What that teacher did was a gut punch to all the military kids at that school,” one livid active duty parent told me.
Mr. Francis said he did not intend to offend or disrespect the military with his anti-American lesson.
“That was not the goal, that was not the point of the lesson,” he said. “For me, it was about the First Amendment, teaching about the Bill of Rights, the beginning of what we call America.”
Supt. Frank Till, Jr. told television station WRAL, “There are other ways to teach First Amendment rights without desecrating a flag.”
Mr. Francis said he does not disagree with that assessment.
If nothing else, the offensive lesson is a reminder of how public schools have become incubators for un-American activities.
It’s unclear what became of the desecrated flag and it’s also unclear whether the first year teacher will be a second year teacher at the school.
Should Mr. Francis need to find gainful employment, perhaps he would be more comfortable with a career in the National Football League?