Cumberland County School Board upholds action against 'flag-stomping' teacher

Thursday, December 1, 2016
Ruling upheld against flag-stomping teacher
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Lee Francis won't be returning to the classroom this year.

FAYETTEVILLE (WTVD) -- The Cumberland County Board of Education spent nearly nine hours behind closed doors, listening to Lee Francis' appeal.

It included more than a dozen witnesses, and when it was over, the board decided that Superintendent Dr. Frank Till was right, and Francis was wrong.

"My heart is broken, teaching is my life and love," Francis said.

Allen Rogers, Francis' attorney said he "definitely" didn't intend to drop the case.

"I think there is a window of opportunity to appeal to Superior Court, and I certainly anticipate that we will be in Superior Court," Rogers said.

Frances was kicked out of his history class at Massey Hill Classical High School after a student snapped a photo of the teacher standing on a U.S. flag during a lecture on free speech.

RELATED: Fayetteville teacher defends flag-stomping lesson

Till suspended Francis for 10 days without pay.

In a 5-2 split, the board upheld Till's decision.

"The core issue for me that we presented is that we have a curriculum and that stepping on the flag was not a part of the curriculum," Till said.

Several of Francis' supporters were outside the board meeting holding signs calling the suspension unfair punishment.

One of the witnesses who testified for Francis agreed.


"He is an excellent teacher," said Billy King, a former county commissioner. "On top of that, we continually need black role models in our school system, so I told the board give the man green a green light to go back to teach."

But for now, that's not in Francis' immediate future. He has been reassigned as a warehouse worker.

Francis said he's been told his contract will not be renewed.

After Wednesday's hearing, Till said we would decide sometime after the Christmas break whether Francis stays in the warehouse or returns to his class.

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