A Long Island man with 30 years of teaching experience played himself right out of the classroom this week, after bragging about having failed students over their entirely legal refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
In a now-deleted Facebook post published in October on an acquaintance’s page, Uniondale High School teacher Steven Solomon, 58, described flunking two students for sitting during the pledge.
“They refused to stand, saying ‘they didn’t have to[.]’ I told them that is true and that what makes this country great is ‘that I didn’t have to pass them either,’” Solomon explained, noting that each student ended the class with a non-failing 63% average in his class.
“Under ordinary circumstances I would have passed them,” Solomon admitted. “Instead I failed them both.”
Solomon’s post lead to an outcry of criticism from community members, who aired their grievances during a Nov. 14 school board meeting.
“It’s upsetting to me, the things people say,” Solomon told WABC, adding that the incident occurred at least a decade ago—well before the controversy over NFL stars opting to remain seated during the national anthem.
These students failed themselves. They had less than a passing grade, and that combined with poor behavior, which included, part of it was they didn’t stand for the pledge, they said they didn’t care if these military people lived or died. They were disrespectful to their own family, to students, to me. They had many behavioral write-ups. So it was a combination. What am I supposed to do, reward kids with a failing grade who have poor discipline?
Regardless of when the students were enrolled in his class, Solomon’s decision to fail them, coupled with his having called them “unpatriotic” and “suckers” prompted the Uniondale School district to pull him from the classroom entirely. In a statement to Newsday, Superintendent William Lloyd promised a full investigation:
The school district is aware of a teacher posting on social media about a situation involving grades and standing for the Pledge of Allegiance that occurred more than a decade ago.
The District has taken the proactive measure of assigning this faculty member to out-of-classroom duties until further investigation into the matter can be completed. The District will make available any information that is uncovered that can legally and responsibly be released to the public.
According to Newsday, Solomon was suspended indefinitely without pay. He told the outlet that he now understand students have the right not to stand during the pledge.