Teacher suspended after telling students not to criticize the president

Teacher suspended after telling students not to criticize the president

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by CALEB TROOP / WCNC.com

WCNC.com

Posted on May 21, 2012 at 2:36 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 22 at 2:11 PM

SPENCER, N.C. – A teacher at a Rowan County school has been suspended after getting national attention for a YouTube video that surfaced last week showing her yelling at her students, saying it’s wrong to criticize the president.

In the YouTube video, North Rowan High School teacher Tonya Dixon-Neely and her students were debating several political issues, including a discussion about President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

The video, which was uploaded on May 14, had more than 178,000 views on YouTube as of Monday afternoon.  The story has been picked up by national media outlets, including Fox News and the New York Post.  Controversial radio host Rush Limbaugh discussed the issue on his radio show on Monday afternoon as well.

The conversation starts as the class discusses recent accusations that Mitt Romney bullied someone as a teenager in the 1960s.

But the conversation quickly turns into an argument between several students and the teacher, with some students questioning Obama and asking if Obama bullied someone in high school as well.

“That’s disrespect.  This man (Romney) is a presidential candidate.  He’s not the president,” the teacher is heard shouting.  “Let me tell you something.  You will not disrespect the president of the United States in this classroom.”

“I’ll say what I want,” countered one male student.

“Not about him you won’t,” yelled the teacher.

“I’m going to call my dad real quick.  We’ll see,” the student added.  “I didn’t disrespect him, I was just asking a question.  I have different beliefs.”

The teacher is still employed but has been suspended with pay.  An employee at the Rowan-Salisbury School System said they have been flooded with calls from around the country on Monday.

Later in the video the conversation turns foul-mouthed when the discussion changes to President Bush.

“Do you realize that people were arrested for saying things bad about Bush,” the teacher continued.  “You are not supposed to slander.

“As a social studies teacher I cannot allow you to slander any president in here, past or present.  If that’s the case, somebody could say negative things about the Tea Party.”

The district released a statement on Monday.

“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.  This incident should serve as an education for all teachers to stop and reflect on their interaction with students. Due to personnel and student confidentiality, we cannot discuss the matter publicly.”

Limbaugh spent several minutes discussing the incident on his national radio show Monday.

"Now, I ask you, is the teacher a liberal?  Is the teacher nonpartisan?  Is the teacher apolitical?  No way," Limbaugh said.  "This teacher is a full-fledged leftist.  There's no question about it.  And sounds very much like a jerk to boot."

Click below to watch the entire 10-minute video. (Note: the video contains audio not suitable for all ages.  Viewer discretion is advised.)

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