N.C. teacher suspended for telling student not to slander President Obama

McClatchy NewspapersMay 24, 2012 

— A Rowan County teacher has been suspended after a video surfaced in which she suggests that a student could be arrested for criticizing President Barack Obama.

Tonya Dixon-Neely teaches social studies at North Rowan High. Officials at the Rowan-Salisbury School System said Dixon-Neely has been suspended with pay while an investigation is being conducted.

“Do you realize that people were arrested for saying things bad about (former President) Bush?” Dixon-Neely tells a student, according to the video. “Do you realize you are not supposed to slander the president?”

The student didn’t back down.

“They cannot take away your right to have your opinion,” the student said. “They can’t take that away unless you threaten the president.”

The Salisbury Post first reported on the 10-minute video. The argument appeared to start after the social studies class began discussing reports that presidential candidate Mitt Romney bullied a student while he was in school. A student questioned whether Obama also bullied someone, referring to passages in his book, “Dreams From My Father,” in which Obama acknowledges pushing a classmate after being taunted by other students.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools officials said they hoped the incident could be a learning experience.

“The Rowan-Salisbury School System expects all students and employees to be respectful in the school environment and for all teachers to maintain their professionalism in the classroom,” Rita Foil, the system’s public information officer, said in a statement.

“This incident should serve as an education for all teachers to stop and reflect on their interaction with students.”

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