A Californian high school teacher was suspended for kneeling during the national anthem.
High school chemistry teacher Windy Pappas took a knee with two signs reading "Black Lives Matter" and "It's OK to disagree with every sign here!!!" at an assembly to kick off homecoming week at Woodland High School on Oct. 13, reports the Daily Democrat.
Later, a staff member approached Pappas in her classroom and escorted her off the campus. She was told she would not be able to work until an investigation had been completed.
"I felt like it was something respectful and supportive to our flag," Pappas said. "I didn’t even think of it as a protest. I was taken off-guard by the reaction."
At the time, she recalls worrying whether or not she was being suspended without pay.
"It's unnerving," she said. "I'm a single mom and that's something I'm thinking about right now."
The school did put Pappas on paid leave and allowed her to return to work on Oct. 17, according to The Sacramento Bee.
"While teachers do retain certain First Amendment rights in their capacity as an instructor, such rights are limited by Education Code and case law," Woodland High Principal Karrie Sequeria explained to parents in an email. "Their personal, political or religious beliefs are not appropriately expressed at school or in the classroom. Instead, the appropriate and legal instructional role is one of neutral facilitator -- one who facilitates student discussion and intelligent analysis of current events."
The incident provoked fierce debate on social media.
Upon seeing a photo of Pappas with her signs on Facebook, some were outraged.
"I can't put into words, how much I am disgusted about the disrespect for our flag," wrote one man who described himself as a 20-year Air Force veteran, reports the Daily Mail.
Some were more sympathetic to the teacher, but still upset.
"All lives of course matter and we all should lead by example of that," one woman wrote. "I personally am not on a witch hunt for this teacher, I just feel the Homecoming rally was not the place to do it."
Many also defended the teacher -- including some of her past and current students, as well as their parents.
"She always respects the opinions of her students, even if they went against [sic] hers," one current student commented.
"She is a great teacher and I will be supporting her through this along with a lot of her other students," she added. "I wouldn't want any other chemistry teacher, nor any other chemistry class."
Sources: Daily Democrat, The Sacramento Bee, Daily Mail, Facebook / Featured Image: Johann Schwarz/Flickr / Embedded Images: Courtesy photo via The Sacramento Bee, Texas A&M University-Commerce MarketingCommunications Photography/Wikimedia Commons