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.