After hugging his teacher, a high school student from Georgia was suspended for one year and won't be graduating with his class in the spring.
According to CBS Atlanta, 17-year-old Sam McNair was suspended for sexual harassment
after he was seen on school surveillance footage wrapping his arms around a teacher at Duluth High School. The woman batted him away and reported the incident to administrators, claiming the student's cheeks and lips touched her neck.
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But McNair, who says he comes from a family of "huggers," denied kissing the woman and insisted the gesture was harmless.
"Something so innocent can be perceived as something totally opposite," the teen told CBS Atlanta. "You never know what someone is going through. A hug might help."
McNair was suspended for one year, meaning he won't be graduating with his classmates. The school said the harsh punishment was based on the teacher having warned McNair about hugging before and the teen's past discipline record.
His mother, April McNair, was outraged by the penalty and said she plans to appeal it.
"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," she told CBS Atlanta.
Sharese Shields Ages, an education attorney not associated with the case, said the school should only have handed down the year suspension if it properly warned students of the consequences.
"The school district should do a very good job communicating to both parents and students what appropriate contact is between students and teachers and to the extent that they have not done that it was an extreme punishment for the student," she said.
The case is reminiscent of the story about the Colorado first-grader who was suspended for sexual harassment last week
after he kissed the hand of a female student he had a crush on.
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