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Custodian, Fed Up With Unfolded Flag, Says He Was Fired

February 5, 2013, 4:45 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Custodian, Fed Up With Unfolded Flag, Says He Was Fired
Courtesy: Cesar Zakahi

FORT PIERRE, SD -

A Stanley County custodian says the school district fired him for standing up for the Stars and Stripes.

He posted a picture of a crumpled up flag on Facebook over the weekend.  On Monday, he says he was fired.

Cesar Zakahi posted the picture on Saturday and asked people to call and email the Stanley County School District superintendent to tell him that the flag should be properly folded and stored.  He says it was something that had been troubling him for months.

"I came in that evening and the flag was all crumpled up and I took a picture of it and put it on Facebook and put the story on there because she wouldn't stop doing it," Zakahi said.

Zakahi has worked as a custodian in the Stanley County School District for nearly three months.  He says when he started his job, another custodian wasn’t properly storing the flag.

"First time, she did it I told her, 'That's disrespectful.  You can't do it that way,' and I showed her how to fold the flag, but she continued doing it," Zakahi said.

Zakahi, who is a disabled veteran, says when it didn't change, he went to the superintendent.

After two months without action, he decided to post a picture on Facebook and asked his friends to, 'Call the superintendent of the Stanley County School system and complain. On Monday, it might stop'

But on Monday, Zakahi says the superintendent called him and said Zakahi overstepped his boundaries.

"I got fired because of accountability. People were asking him why this wasn't being taken care of and he hasn't taken care of it," Zakahi said.

Zakahi says he was fired within the 90-day probation period of being hired.

Stanley County Superintendent Don Hotalling confirms that Zakahi no longer works for the school but didn't give a reason, saying it's a personnel matter.

"We're not mistreating the flag, nor have we, nor will we. We have no tolerance of that," Hotalling said in a statement.

Hotalling says he has seen the pictures of the unfolded flag. But on his Facebook page Tuesday, Zakahi posted that the superintendent told him quote, 'There is no proof of who did this.'

The superintendent says he is a veteran as well and has nothing but respect for the flag.

The Stanley County School Board is scheduled to meet in executive session Wednesday night to discuss personnel and legal matters, but it does not specify what they will discuss.

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