Sam McNair, 17, is in the middle of his senior year at high school. McNair is a student athlete who plays football and lacrosse. Unfortunately, McNair’s senior year has been cut short because of a hug.
“Something so innocent can be perceived as something totally opposite,” said McNair.
A video of the hug, shows McNair enter a room, place his arms around the back and front of the teacher and tuck his head behind her neck. But the teacher involved alleges that McNair’s cheeks and lips touched the back of her neck and cheek.
McNair denied he kissed his teacher or sexually harassed her and also says he regularly hugs his teachers and has never been disciplined for it in the past.
According to the discipline report, the teacher alleged she warned McNair that hugs were inappropriate but he disputes that.
April McNair, Sam’s mother, said she was dumbfounded when she was informed of the suspension and believes the district had a responsibility to notify her if her son’s hugging was becoming problematic before it suspended him and derailed 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,” said April McNair.
Sloan Roach, a spokesperson for Gwinnett County Public Schools,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.”
Sam McNair does have a discipline record and previous suspensions but not for sexual harassment and he does not believe he should be punished for showing affection.
“You know what someone’s going through. A hug might help,” said Sam McNair.
A Change.org petition was created to help get the school overturn their decision: https://www.change.org/petitions/gwinnett-county-public-schools-overturn-and-revisit-sam-mcnair-s-yearlong-suspension-for-hugging-a-teacher