A long-serving substitute teacher at Missouri’s Parkway South High School – the alleged home of the “Patriots” – is out of a job after he thanked students who respectfully stood during the Pledge of Allegiance.
Manchester teacher Jim Furkin told KTVI he’d worked at the school almost every day for 5 years, and regularly thanked kids who stood to show their support during the pledge. But a student who decided to sit out the pledge last week complained Furkin’s comments made him feel singled out, so district officials banned him from the school, he said.
“The PA announcer says please rise for the Pledge of Allegiance,” Furkin said. “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 those families that lost love ones so we could have the freedoms we have today would appreciate that, too.’
“That’s what I said.”
A district spokeswoman told KTVI Frukin’s remarks are considered “bullying.”
Officials told Furkin he could serve as a substitute at other schools, just not Parkway South, but he opted instead to tender his resignation to the school board, along with his thoughts on the situation.
“How in the world can we go from thanking the kids for saying the Pledge of Allegiance to being charged with bullying …,” he told the board, offering an example of the backwards thinking using the board members themselves.
“It’s kind of like saying, ‘Ms. Davis, I like your hair tonight,’ but if I don’t say the same thing to Ms. Hopper she gets offended,” he said. “And then you guys say as a collective group, ‘We don’t want you to come to the board meetings anymore.’”
For Frukin, 66, the American flag is more than a piece of cloth dangling from a pole, and he wants students to understand why.
“That flag is not to be taken for granted, in my opinion,” he said. “It is our symbol of freedom.”
District officials alleged Furkin had made other mistakes as a substitute in the past and the decision to ban him from Parkway South was based on several factors. Officials alleged students who did not stand for the pledge were “humiliated” by Frukin’s comments, WSOC reports.
“We proudly recite our Pledge of Allegiance in all Parkway schools and classrooms. Students choose to participate, which is their right, and our role as educators is not to make a judgment about that choice,” according to the district’s prepared statement.
“Unfortunately, (Frukin) did not maintain the high standards we expect of adults who work with our children. It is worth noting that during the recent incident regarding the pledge, the substitute’s comments caused disruption during class. By praising certain students for standing, the students who made the decision not to stand were humiliated and then teased. The class environment did not cultivate an atmosphere of learning and acceptance of the views and values of others.”
Students, meanwhile, aren’t taking the district’s decision kindly.
About three dozen walked out of class on Monday chanting “we want Furkin” to let the district know where they stand.