PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. - An act by an Arnold High School teacher is turning into a huge debate about his right to express his opinion. The teacher hung an American flag upside down...The symbol for distress. A student snapped a picture of the flag, which went viral on Facebook.
It shows an American flag hung upside-down Wednesday morning by Arnold 12th grade English teacher Erik Cobb. A lot of Erik Cobb's student are coming to his defense. However, this isn't the first time he's run into trouble with school administrators. Papers from Cobb's personnel file detail a pattern of inappropriate behavior.
Some say Cobb was expressing his feelings about Donald Trump being elected president the day before. Cobb's own explanation on Facebook mirrors the school district's version of what happened...That the upside down flag was part of Cobb's lesson to his students about persuasive writing and thinking, as well as accepting diverse views. Regardless of the reason, Bay District School officials say the situation was corrected immediately after a parent made them aware of the situation. They also say Cobb will not face any disciplinary action.
That has not always been the case during Cobb's teaching career. According to his Bay District Schools personnel file, he received a formal reprimand in March 2009 for derogatory statements towards his English class calling them "stupid and irresponsible." In May 2010 he was suspended without pay for five days for leaving school during a bomb threat. He received another formal reprimand and a four day suspension for using inappropriate language in a letter to his students.
Despite these issues, Cobb seems to enjoy the support of a number of his students. Several contacted News 13, calling him an "amazing teacher" who teaches them to be open minded and available to different opinions. Many of them showed their support for Cobb, posting his name on a school bulletin board, asking students what they're thankful for this holiday season.
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