A 70-year-old teacher was forced to retire from his job at Sutter Middle School in Folsom CA after concerns were aired over his display of a Confederate flag to students during a lesson on the Civil War. Teacher Woody Hart illustrated the bloody conflict between North and South by hanging an American flag and a Confederate flag during his lesson to middle school students.
In a statement, Folsom Cordova Unified School District suggested that Hart possibly displayed the flag for reasons other than educational. “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.”
In November 2016, the parents of a black child at the middle school complained that Hart had used an analogy to explain how states treat individuals in accordance with the U.S. Constitution. Allegedly, Hart told his eighth-grade students, “When you hang one black person, you have to hang them all (as) that is equality," according to a complaint. Tyler McIntyre said that the November 2 incident involving his 13-year-old son came during discussion about a test on the U.S. Constitution. When a student asked for a definition of equality, the teacher then allegedly utilized the offending analogy.
In a subsequent interview, according to the Sacramento Bee, Hart apologized and said that he had sought to make the lesson "interesting." An advocacy group that calls itself "Showing Up for Racial Justice," went to a school board meeting to demand the apology. Subsequently, district superintendent Deborah Bettencourt posted an apology on Facebook.