Chapin High teacher, family harassed, attorney says

tflach@thestate.comJanuary 23, 2013 

— The furor over Chapin High teacher Scott Compton’s stomping of an American flag during a lesson last fall has turned his “world upside down,” his lawyer said Wednesday.

“Friends and family know him as a man who is passionate about education,” attorney Darryl Smalls said in a statement. “Mr. Compton cannot begin to express the disappointment that he feels that many veterans and some current service members have been led to believe that he disrespected their service and sacrifice to our great country because that is simply not true.”

Compton and his family are being harassed and sent hate mail, Smalls said.

The statement came after Compton did not respond to requests for an interview.

Compton, who taught honors English, is on leave with pay.

He is silent on appealing the firing, which was recommended by Lexington-Richland 5 superintendent Stephen Hefner.

Any appeal will be decided by the seven-member school board. Compton has until Jan. 30 to do so, school officials say.

Compton’s action has become a source of comment in letters in newspapers, on the Internet and on broadcast talk shows.

Some educators and military veterans are split on firing him.

His defenders say dismissal is excessive for what they say is at worst a well-intentioned mistake. School officials say it violates the conduct expected of teachers, but they concede the district has no specific standards for treatment of the flag.

Efforts to reach district spokesman Mark Bounds were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Compton stepped on the flag during three classes during a discussion of symbolism, officials have said.

No anti-American remarks occurred during the lesson, Smalls has said.

The flag was used because it is something with which students are familiar, his statement said.

Compton told students the United States “is an inspiration, greater than any material symbol that represents it,” it said. “The intent of the lesson was to show that his actions could not diminish the foundation that America was built on and has thrived on.”

The exchange of emailed complaints from some parents that contained inaccurate information “created this frenzy,” the statement said.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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