A substitute teacher from Missouri has been let go from his job after he thanked students for standing during the Pledge of Allegiance. Jim Furkin said he had been working in St. Louis County for 10 years before the incident took place, which resulted in his termination.
According to the teacher, 22 of 24 students he was teaching decided to take part in the Pledge, rising to their feet and reciting the famed text. Following this show of patriotism, Furkin thanked the students for their respect and pride in their country.
“So 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 we could have the freedoms we have today would appreciate that, too.’” Furkin said, according to WSOC-TV. “That’s what I said.”
In response to Furkin’s simple thanks, school officials determined that his actions amounted to a form of bullying toward those who did not take part in the Pledge of Allegiance. Administrators at Parkway South High School subsequently decided that Furkin should no longer teach at their school, but did note that he would be permitted to work in other schools in the district. Furkin, however, said that following the troubling episode, he won’t be taking up their offer.
“Yeah, I’ve had enough, and it’s a shame,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to miss. I’m going to miss the kids.”
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In a letter to parents and staff, school officials insisted that the Pledge of Allegiance incident was not the sole factor in his dismissal. They did not elaborate on other aspects, however, calling it a “personal matter.”
In response to the firing, students reportedly staged a “walk out” in a bid to protest Furkin’s dismissal.
Students at Parkway South High School walk out of class Monday and recite the Pledge of Allegiance in support of substitute teacher Jim Furkin.
Furkin was banned from teaching at the school after comments made in October when students chose not to recite the Pledge. @ksdknews pic.twitter.com/SG3jaJ9JP9
— Grant Bissell (@gbissellKSDK) November 19, 2018
Others responded to the story on social media, with a partisan mix of outrage and support.
“President Trump. Please fix the ridiculous firing of Jim Furkin,” one Twitter user wrote. “The teacher who got fired for thanking his students for standing to salute our American flag. The school district should be ashamed of themselves for not defending an honoring our country.”
“Thank you Jim Furkin for honoring the greatest and most compassionate country that has ever existed,” another added.