EXCLUSIVE: Fired Chapin teacher faced other issues, district said

02/20/2013 7:38 PM

02/21/2013 10:45 AM

Lexington-Richland 5 officials allege Chapin High teacher Scott Compton’s stomping of the U.S. flag is part of a series of actions that warrant his dismissal.

In Compton’s termination letter, obtained by The State newspaper through a state Freedom of Information Act request, the district’s superintendent says the flag stomping is the latest incident in “a pattern of poor judgment.”

But Darryl Smalls, Compton’s lawyer, said Wednesday the additional allegations are “simply a ploy to pull at any straw the district can find to discredit” Compton.

School board members will decide Compton’s fate in a closed-door session that he requested, tentatively set for March 5.

A Jan. 15 letter to Compton from superintendent Stephen Hefner alleges two concerns besides the flag-stomping:

• A liquor ad appeared a year ago in Chapin High’s student newspaper while Compton was the adviser.
• Superiors warned Compton about “failure to consistently demonstrate appropriate judgment in your interaction with school staff,” though no details were given. The warnings occurred in a conversation for which there is no written record, Lexington-Richland 5 spokesman Mark Bounds said.

Those episodes display a lack of “sound professional judgment” that further merit firing, Hefner told Compton.

But Smalls called the complaints off-base.

A recipe for a cocktail was included on a prepared page of stories offered to student newspapers nationwide from McClatchy-Tribune news service, a joint venture by the parent company of The State newspaper. It was unclear Wednesday if the district paid for the content — celebrating Leap Year in 2012 — as part of a subscription to the service.

The inclusion of the recipe slipped by Compton and other school staff — including principals — in a review prior to publication, Smalls alleges.

Compton “does not endorse the consumption of alcohol and, in fact, does not drink alcohol,” Smalls said.

The other complaint concerns comments that Compton allegedly made to a principal regarding another teacher who lost a job due to spending cuts, Smalls said.

Those episodes display a lack of “sound professional judgment” that further merit firing, Hefner told Compton.

“It appears that despite the administration’s efforts to bring your deficiencies to your attention and to provide suggestions for improvement, you have continued to engage in activities that adversely impact your credibility as a teacher and that disrupt the educational environment.” the letter said.

The additional complaints followed a Jan. 10 letter to Compton that focused solely on the flag stomping that stirred a furor in the northern Lexington County community and beyond.

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

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

He has been suspended with pay since mid-December while his appeal is pending.

Some educators and military veterans are split on firing him.

His defenders say dismissal is too harsh for a well-intentioned mistake in a lesson. Critics call the action unpatriotic and unprofessional.

Darryl Smalls Statement

Darryl Smalls statement by thestate

Amended Termination Letter, Jan 15, 2013

Scott Compton Amended Termination Letter by thestate

Termination Letter, January 10, 2013

Scott Compton termination letter by thestate

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