Teacher, 70, Forced to Retire After Displaying Confederate Flag During Civil War Lesson

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By Ian Miles Cheong | 10:22 pm, January 28, 2017

A teacher who displayed the Confederate flag to middle schoolers in his history class was forced to retire amid concerns that he was displaying a symbol of hate.

70-year-old Sutter Middle School (Folsom, CA) teacher Woody Hart hanged both a Confederate flag and a Union flag during his lesson on the Civil War.

In a public statement (via the Sacramento Bee), Folsom Cordova Unified School District made suggested that he may have hung up the flag for some reason other than to teach the history lesson.

“We recognize that regardless of context, to many of our students, families, and staff, the Confederate flag is a racist symbol of hate,” the statement reads. “Although this matter is under investigation, it is important to reiterate: Any employee who is found to engage in behavior that creates an unsafe environment for students will face full consequences, including the possibility of initiating termination proceedings.”

“In this case, the flag — which was found across the room from a Civil War Union flag, potentially in preparation of a history activity — was removed from the classroom before school began today,” it continues. “It is our schools’ responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for all children.”

The school district also announced Hart’s “retirement.”

Last year, Hart dealt with a similar controversy about being racially insensitive when a family complained about how he made “an inappropriate lynching analogy” during a history lesson. Per the complaint, Hart said “When you hang one black person, you have to hang them all. That is equality.”

He made the statement in context of Southerners who were required by law to treat individuals from outside their states the same way they treated their own black residents. In the investigation, Hart told school administrators that Southerners would often reply with glib remarks about “equality” when other Americans took them to task over racial discrimination.

In addition to the parents who lodged the complaint, the Sacramento chapter of the social justice organization, Showing Up for Racial Justice, demanded a public apology from Hart.

The school district superintendent Deborah Bettencourt says that the administration “do not want to limit the free speech of our teachers,” but adds that their expectation is that “teachers and staff will do this work using culturally appropriate strategies.”

Given the hypersensitivity of millennial parents and their offspring, it’s a wonder how any teacher can get their job done without offending someone.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.