Student Suspended For Hugging Teacher

INSIDE EDITION spoke to Sam McNair, a high school senior who is appealing a suspension from school after he gave a teacher an unwelcome hug.

The high school football star caught on surveillance video giving his teacher an unwelcome hug spoke to INSIDE EDITION after he was suspended for the rest of the school year.  

Seventeen-year-old Sam McNair is appealing his suspension from Duluth High School outside Atlanta.  

He told INSIDE EDITION, “I am really dumbfounded. I didn't see how you could penalize someone for something so simple like that."

The surveillance video was taken in the school bookstore. He can be seen hugging the teacher and then appears to nuzzle her neck before she angrily pushed him away.  

Sam said he has hugged the teacher four or five times before. But the teacher said he didn't stop with a hug.  A disciplinary report claims, "She felt Sam's lips and cheek touch her on the back of her neck and cheek."

INSIDE EDITION's Jim Moret asked, "Did you kiss that teacher on the back of the neck?"

Sam said, "No sir."

Moret asked, "Did you brush against her, even accidentally?"

Sam replied, "I am not aware if I did brush against her, but, it wasn't intentional."

He says his hopes for a college football scholarship are now in jeopardy because he's been suspended. His mom says he gives everybody a hug, telling INSIDE EDITION, “He gives me a hug all the time. This is how he is with everyone he comes in contact with him."

An online petition to reverse his suspension has now been started on the website which says, “The Punishment Does Not Fit the Violation.” 

His mother said, "This messes up his life now, present, and future."

On CNN Wednesday night, Piers Morgan had this advice for Sam, “I would personally reign back the hugs a bit Sam, because clearly not everyone shares your delight with the hugging, but it does seem like an overreaction to me.”

It turns out he has been suspended twice before for other disciplinary violations. In 7th grade for having a BB gun and in 9th grade after he says he had a bad reaction to some medicine.  

A school spokesperson for Gwinnett County Public Schools said in a statement, "Hearing officers consider witness testimony, a review of the known facts, and a student's past disciplinary history-including long-term suspensions when determining consequences."  

Moret asked, "What have you learned from this experience?"

Sam said, "Keep your hands to yourself. You never know what anyone is going to say about you."