Chapin teacher got $85,000 in flag stomping deal

tflach@thestate.comMay 6, 2013 

— Lexington-Richland 5 paid former Chapin High teacher Scott Compton $85,000 to avoid a legal challenge, part of a settlement that led to his resignation after he stomped on an American flag during a class lesson.

The payment is on top of Compton’s salary that will be paid through June 7, even though he has been out of the classroom since December. School officials did not provide Compton’s salary Monday, but their plan pays teachers with his 12 years’ experience $43,340 to $59,647 a year.

Lexington-Richland 5 taxpayers also will foot the bill for more than $31,500 in attorney fees, records obtained by The State newspaper under a state Freedom of Information Act request show.

The $85,000 payment was described as “a compromise and resolution of disputed claims,” the records say.

It was not disclosed as part of Compton’s resignation, announced March 27, a decision that the settlement says is for “family and personal reasons” not spelled out.

“Prior to his resignation, attorneys for Mr. Compton informed district attorneys that he had prepared a complaint for filing in federal court,” Lexington-Richland 5 spokesman Mark Bounds said.

“Based on financial considerations related to anticipated legal fees to defend such a suit, the insurer made the decision to make a monetary (offer) to Mr. Compton. He accepted the offer.”

Darryl Smalls, Compton’s attorney, declined comment Monday on any aspect of the settlement.

In accepting the payment, Compton agreed not to pursue a legal challenge to how school officials sought his dismissal by seeking damages for claims that include defamation, emotional distress and breach of contract.

As part of the settlement, Lexington-Richland 5 admitted no liability in seeking to fire Compton.

Compton’s resignation is not an admission of wrongdoing, and he is guaranteed a letter of recommendation for future employment, records say.

He also is free to seek unemployment benefits without objection from Lexington-Richland 5.

Compton’s stomping of the flag last fall set off a furor in the community in northern Lexington County.

Some educators and military veterans split on whether dismissal was merited.

Superintendent Stephen Hefner sought to fire Compton, saying the stomping was the latest incident in what Hefner said was a pattern of poor judgment.

Lexington-Richland 5 has no standards for treatment of the flag, but school officials say Compton violated conduct expected of teachers.

Compton, in statements through his lawyer, said the action was not intended to be disrespectful but an effort to promote discussion with students on how the nation is much more than its symbols.

“We’re glad this issue is resolved,” Bounds said. “Its resolution is in the best interest of the district, our teachers and the students we serve.”

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.