A substitute teacher at Parkway South High School in Missouri for the last ten years thanked children for saying the Pledge of Allegiance. A student complained of feeling bullied afterward, but according to the district that was not the only reason he got banned.
66-year-old Jim Furkin filled in for a freshman English class when the PA announcer asked everyone to rise for the Pledge of Allegiance. Afterward, he thanked the students who participated, but at least one student who didn’t stand felt singled out and bullied.
Jim found out how the student felt after going to the councilors office and apologized and tried to convey that it was not his intent. But the next day they told him he could no longer work at Parkway South but could fill out in other schools.
During a Parkway School Board meeting on Wednesday night, Jim defended himself and recalled the incident in question:
“The PA announcer says please rise for the pledge of allegiance. 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.”
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Jim commented later on:
“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.”
On Friday, Parkway School District issued a statement that read:
"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."
Friday evening the district expanded their statement to say:
"We always try to protect the privacy of everyone involved during these matters. However, there has been an omission of important facts in this case. The truth is, we recommended that this substitute not return due to a pattern of inappropriate conduct.”
They had previously restricted Jim from another Parkway high school for unauthorized recording of students in the class. At South High, he had shared his personal contact information with students.
The district also felt that he did not maintain the high standards they expect of their staff. They concluded the statement and said:
"We take great care in every personnel matter as these decisions impact our students in the classroom each day. We appreciate the trust you place in us to make the best decisions for your children."
Afterward, Furkin talked about his experience at the school and said:
“I had a really good presence in the building. I know all the teachers, and I had a pretty good relationship with the students. … It was a wonderful place to work. I absolutely loved it.”
Jim’s Educational Staffing representative offered to get him into another school, but he declined and commented:
“If I’m being knocked out of the building, I’m just done,” he said. “’I don’t want to sub anymore, take me off your rolls. I quit. I’ve had it.’”
A Florida teacher also got fired recently for doing what she thought was right, much like Jim Furkin. Diane Tirado got fired from West Gate school in Port St. Lucie where she had recently started teaching. She assigned the students a project, and when many of them failed to turn in a completed project, she gave them zeroes.
However, the student and parent handbook state that no zeros to be given to students, and their lowest possible grade is 50%, resulting in being fired on September 14.
Tirado would like to change this policy as she said that real life does not work this way. When you do zero of the work, it should reflect on the outcome, and Tirado added:
"I'm so upset. We have a nation of kids that are expecting to get paid and live their life just for showing up, and it's not real."
On her last day, Diana wrote the following on her whiteboard:
“Bye kids. Mrs. Tirado loves you and wishes you the best in life! I have been fired for refusing to give you a 50% for not handing anything in. Mrs. Tirado.”
The Middleton School District recently had to put fourteen staff members of an elementary school on paid administrative leave after they posted pictures of their Halloween costumes online, they depicted the border wall to Mexico and stereotyped Mexicans.
The initial idea was a week-long team building activity with six countries to choose from, with the focus supposed to have been on acts of kindness and respect. The school district launched an investigation and planned on having an action plan in place by the first week of November.