COLUMBIA, S.C. – A South Carolina high school teacher who talked glowingly about the U.S. and the importance of embracing freedom while stomping on an American flag in his classroom is still deciding whether to appeal a superintendent's recommendation that he be fired.
Lexington-Richland District 5's school board received an update Monday behind closed doors about Scott Compton's lesson at Chapin High School, but didn't take any action because Compton has until the end of next week to ask board members to consider his appeal, district spokesman Mark Bounds said.
Neither Compton nor his attorney was at the school board meeting.
Superintendent Stephen Hefner didn't find a problem with the ninth and 10th grade English teacher's lesson on how ideas should be greater than symbols, but instead was appalled with the bad judgment Compton used in defacing a U.S. flag to make his point, Bounds said.
"I was in the military 20 years. I will defend your right to burn an American flag in the public square to my death. But as a teacher, you cannot bring your personal biases into the classroom," Bounds said.
Neither Compton nor his lawyer Darryl Smalls, returned messages from The Associated Press. Last week, Smalls emailed a statement to WIS-TV, saying Compton was trying to show the idea of what America stands for is greater than the material objects like the flag that represent it. He said several members of Compton's family have served in the military and they fully support him.
"He meant no intentional disrespect to those men and women who served our country or to America itself," Smalls wrote.
Smalls told the television station that people were taking what happened to the flag out of context from the rest of the lesson.
The incident happened in early December and a parent called district officials after hearing what happened from his child. Hefner talked to students in the class as well as Compton before deciding to recommend the teacher's firing.
Teachers in South Carolina do not have tenure and cannot belong to unions. The law gives superintendents the ability to recommend firing teachers who show "an evident unfitness for teaching" as long as the teacher gets a hearing before the school board.