Student Suspended For A Year After Hugging Teacher

(Photo credit should read JOSE CENDON/AFP/Getty Images)CBS Atlanta

DULUTH, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) – A high school senior won’t graduate on time after being suspended for one year for hugging a teacher in November.

Last week, a Duluth High School hearing officer found that Sam McNair violated the Gwinnett County Public Schools’ rules on sexual harassment.

“Something so innocent can be perceived as something totally opposite,” McNair told WGCL.  

A surveillance camera captured when McNair entered a room, placing his arms around the back and front of the teacher and tuck his head behind her neck. The teacher alleged in a discipline report that McNair’s cheeks and lips touched the back of her neck and cheek, according to WGCL.

The 17-year-old denied that he sexually harassed his teacher and that he kissed her. He said that he has never been disciplined for hugging teachers in the past.

However, the teacher alleged in the discipline report that she warned McNair about giving teachers hugs and that they were inappropriate, WGCL reported.

The student’s mother, April McNair, was shocked when the district told her that her son was suspended for giving a hug.  She thinks that the district should have notified her if her son’s hugging was a problem before taking the action of suspending him for a year, which jeopardize his college plans.

“He’s a senior. He plays football and was getting ready for lacrosse and you’re stripping him of even getting a full scholarship for athletics for college,”April McNair explained to WGCL.

A spokesperson for Gwinnet County Public Schools would not comment on McNair’s case specifically, but said in a statement that ”hearing officers consider witness testimony, a review of the known facts, and a student’s past disciplinary history … when determining consequences.”

According to WGCL, he has previous suspensions but not for sexual harassment.  He does not that he should be punished for a hug.

“You know what someone’s going through. A hug might help,” said Sam McNair.

4 thoughts on “Student Suspended For A Year After Hugging Teacher

  1. We have come a long way since the 1970s when I was in high school, with awareness of sexual harassment, date rape and so on. I think this awareness is a good thing. However, it seems that many people are losing perspective and taking this political correctness thing a bit too far. This article does not give a lot of detail, but the comment from the mother rings true for me…. why do the schools so often jump to the discipline without involving the parents? Why not make a simple call home and have a bit of a discussion with the family before going to the harsh, punitive approach? (these are rhetorical questions, sadly…. I know the reasons).

    But we could all change this. I have been really, really frustrated and disappointed in discussing with other parents these harsh discipline policies. More parents than I thought, actually do support this type of harsh discipline, zero tolerance, and this pendulum swung so far from where it used to be.

    There is a middle approach, and it is the one I have tried hard to teach my kids, which is to respect yourself and the other person, and observe if the other person is respecting you and him/herself. It is totally a two-way street. Talk to one another. Most people are NOT sociopaths but it is also important to have awareness of sociopathy. (some people are only capable of deception and disrespect — don’t waste your time trying to relate to them in a mutual way because it will never work)

    As for hugging — it sounds like the teacher was uncomfortable with the hug. I can see why. And if she is uncomfortable with it, she has a right to speak up and say so. And it would be good for him to learn to respect others when it comes to touching.

    But unless this is a repeated behavior and she has admonished him before, there are gentler ways of handling it, that are more respectful to both parties and will take into account the developmental stage of the young man. Haven’t we all at times hugged or touched someone who drew back because it was perceived as unwanted or an invasion of personal space? Or been on the receiving end of it? Most of these types of situations can be easily diffused, with respect and without undue embarrassment or damage, especially to a youngster who may have done this quite innocently and is in the process of learning how to interact with others respectfully.

  2. More parents hopefully waking up to the benefits and stress free Home Schooling

    On line programs are out there and they work great, no union bickering, no teacher attitudes toward your kid, and none of the school building drama, and above all , your kid is safe in your home, not unprotected in a gun free killing field..want to wake up the local school board, and their pensions.take your kids OUT!

    you will be happy, your kids will be more relaxed and get better can that be a bad thing..

    I know it worked great for me

  3. If the teacher told him before not to hug her then he was wrong in doing so. The schools reaction is excessive. His ignoring a request is grounds for punishment but taking his scholarship is draconian.

  4. Is this what we’ve become? How much lower and despicable can our school administrators get? It’s no longer education, but prison time.

    So, you can no longer love and respect your teachers. You must be punished for it?


    By the way, I have received countless hugs from my students when I was teaching in Communist China and so did other Chinese teachers. It’s no big deal and is very common. So why is it such a big deal in Communist Amerika?

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