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Virginia substitute teacher suspended over comments backing Russia's invasion of Ukraine

John Stanton, 65, also told Arlington middle school students to read Sputnik News, which the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency have declared a “state-run propaganda machine.”
Image: A woman walks past a destroyed military vehicle in Bucha
A woman walks past a destroyed military vehicle, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues in the town of Bucha in the Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 1, 2022. Serhii Nuzhnenko / Reuters
/ Source: Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Va. — A Virginia substitute teacher has been suspended after expressing approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine and urging students to read Russian propaganda outlets.

Arlington Public Schools suspended John Stanton, 65, who made the comments during a middle school Spanish class Friday, The Washington Post reported.

Stanton said he offered an opposing viewpoint and told students to read as many news sources as possible, including Sputnik News, which the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency have declared a “state-run propaganda machine.”

“The statement I think that got me was I said, ‘I personally support the logic of Putin,’ and what I meant by that is, he made a rational decision from his perception,” Stanton said.

A schools spokesperson declined to discuss Stanton’s comments or employment status.

In an email to the school board, parents said Stanton’s comments, expressing support for Russia and asking if anyone “hated Russia,” amounted to “advocacy of political positions, and Russian propaganda.”

Officials notified Stanton that he was suspended because of “an allegation of comments made to students during instructional hours regarding sensitive world events with Russia and Ukraine.” Stanton said he doesn’t plan to petition for reinstatement.

Stanton, whose résumé lists roles as an American Enterprise Institute researcher and “independent journalist,” said he writes for outlets such as Pravda.