A different kind of flag controversy is playing out in Martinsville, Illinois, where a high school English teacher has been fired stepping on an American flag during class. The Mattoon Journal Gazette reports the Martinsville school board dismissed Jordan Parmenter on Thursday in a 6-0 vote; the decision was effective immediately. The incident occurred during a May 15 lesson on freedom of speech at Martinsville Junior-Senior High School. Parmenter reportedly shifted his class's attention to a chart by using an American flag as a pointer; a student challenged him on that, branding the move as disrespectful. Parmenter then made what he says was a "terrible error in judgment," per the Journal Gazette: to further illustrate free speech, he dropped the flag and stepped on it.
The class immediately became upset, and outrage apparently followed: WTHI reports flag-carrying protesters gathered outside the school in May, and a press release posted to the school's website on May 19 notes that threats had been made against Parmenter, and had been reported to police. The 26-year-old was put on leave, and penned an apology that he delivered to the school board. A passage: "I believe that ideas such as the nature of symbolism and freedom of expression are valuable topics to discuss in the classroom and that surprise can be a useful tool to use when engaging students, however in this instance I chose a very poor way of addressing this subject. What I did was never intended as a show of disrespect to our country, to our veterans, or to anyone, nor would I ever do or say anything with that intention." Parmenter spoke to the board on Thursday, but apparently to no avail.