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Teacher disciplined over foreign flags in the classroom
Rocky Mountain News
By Berny Morson
August 23, 2006

LAKEWOOD — A seventh-grade geography teacher at Carmody Middle School was suspended with pay today when he refused to take down three foreign flags on display in his classroom.

Eric Hamlin said the flags of China, Mexico and the United Nations were relevant to the unit on the fundamentals of geography he teaches during the first six weeks of the semester. He's used the same display for most of the nine years he's taught in Jefferson County, Hamlin said.

The foreign flags are in addition to the standard U.S. flag found in all classrooms.

Hamlin said principal John Schalk escorted him from the building Thursday before classes began. He was handed a letter saying the matter is under investigation and warning him to remain off school property.

Jeffco Public Schools spokeswoman Lynn Setzer said Schalk believed Hamlin was in violation of a state law on display of foreign flags on public property.

Schalk interprets the law as allowing foreign flags as part of a specific lesson, but not for the duration of the six-week unit.

Hamlin has more than 50 flags that he uses during the course of the year. He asks students to consider the symbolism different countries put on their flags, such as the stars and stripes on the U.S. flag

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