St Louis teacher is fired after thanking students who participated in the Pledge of Allegiance. Parents rally.

A Missouri high school substitute teacher who lost his job last month after thanking students for standing for the Pledge of Allegiance believes he was terminated unfairly.

“The PA announcer says please rise for the pledge of allegiance,” substitute teacher Jim Furkin, 66, said to station KTVI, describing what happened last month at St. Louis’s Parkway South High School.

“I say, ‘Let’s go.”  The kids get up — 24 kids in class — and 22 got up. I say, ‘Thank you very much, all of you that participated. I appreciate that. I’m sure all of those families that lost loved ones so we could have the freedoms we have today would appreciate that, too.’ That’s what I said.”


It’s what happened next that got him into trouble.

“Long story short, one of the kids wanted to see the counselor, and then two days later I was asked to leave the building and never come back,” he said during a school board hearing this Tuesday, according to station KMOV.

The school revealed to him that the student had told them he’d been “hurt” my Furkin’s remark, and according to KTVI, this “hurt” that Furkin allegedly delivered to the boy counted as an act of “bullying.”

Furkin disagrees with this line of thinking.

“I just think that I would try to convey something like that to the kids who just take everything for granted. That flag is not to be taken for granted, in my opinion. It is our symbol of freedom,” he said.

While many would probably agree with this sentiment, the problem is that Parkway District Superintendent Dr. Keith Marty claims Furkin’s termination wasn’t based on just this incident.

In a letter sent to all Parkway South parents and staff, as well as the media, she accused Furkin of having ” a pattern of inappropriate conduct.”

“The employee was previously restricted from another Parkway high school for recording video of students without their permission in class,” Marty wrote.  “In addition, he violated appropriate teacher-to-student interactions by sharing his personal contact information with students at South High.”

Marty also complained about the latest incident, arguing that the substitute teacher’s gratitude “caused disruption.”

“By praising certain students for standing, the students who made the decision not to stand were humiliated and then teased,” she claimed. “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.”

Yet Furkin still maintains his total innocence, though he has reportedly resigned from substitute teaching altogether.

“I’ve had enough,” he said to KTVI. “That’s a shame. That’s what I’m going to miss. I’m going to miss the kids.”

It appears many of them will miss him as well. By Saturday at least 650 people — presumably local students and parents — had signed an “appreciation” petition on his behalf.

Furkin was likewise receiving some praise on social media:

But there were a few detractors as well such as this individual:

It’s unclear what thanking students for standing for the Pledge of Allegiance has to do with racism or with Furkin being “an old, white” man.


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