ATLANTA (Reuters) – A suburban Atlanta high school student has been suspended for a year for hugging a teacher, a television station reported.
The suspension could derail Sam McNair’s chances of obtaining a college athletic scholarship, his mother, April McNair told Atlanta station WGCL.
“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 told the station.
McNair, 17, was suspended December 3 after a school hearing officer ruled he violated the Gwinnett County Schools sexual harassment rules, the station said. The TV report did not identify the teacher.
Sloan Roach, a spokeswoman for the school system, told Reuters she is limited in what she can say about the case since it is a disciplinary matter.
The McNairs could not be immediately reached for comment.
The station reported the teacher also accused McNair of kissing her on the cheek and the back of her neck during the hug. Citing the school disciplinary report, the station said the teacher said she had previously warned McNair that hugs were inappropriate. Reuters could not immediately confirm the contents of the disciplinary report.
In the WGCL interview, Sam McNair said the teacher never warned him against hugging and says he did not kiss or sexually harass the teacher.
“Something so innocent can be perceived as something totally opposite,” McNair said.
Roach said the suspension was handed down after a “review of the known facts.” She said school officials take into account witness testimony and a student’s past disciplinary history when they examine disciplinary issues.
The decision can be appealed to Georgia’s State Board of Education, she said.
WGCL reported that Sam McNair has a school disciplinary record but not for sexual harassment.
(Editing by Kevin Gray and David Gregorio)