by: Diana Davis Updated:
DULUTH, Ga. - A Gwinnett County high school senior is expelled for the rest of the year for what he says was simply hugging his teacher.
Samuel McNair, 17, and his mother say they're a family of huggers.
When McNair hugged a teacher Duluth High School a couple of weeks ago, it got him expelled for the rest of the year.
His mother, April McNair, told Davis she was dumbfounded.
"It's like it blindsided (me). I'm like, 'Are you frigging kidding me?'" April McNair said.
Sam McNair says he's hugged the same teacher on at least four or five other occasions, but this time the hug, captured on the school video security system, you can see the teacher pull away.
She filed a complaint saying McNair sexually harassed her.
McNair told Davis he was shocked.
"I was surprised. I'm just like, 'It's a hug.' So I'm like, 'I did this plenty of times before so I don't know what's different this time.' I mean she must have told me to get out. I followed directions and left," Sam McNair.
But the teacher says McNair's lips touched the back of her neck and cheeks and she says she told him before that hugs were inappropriate.
McNair says it was a hug, nothing more and says this is the first time the teacher seemed upset.
"If you had a problem with it before you could have at least told me or filed a report or talked to my mother," said Sam McNair.
No one from the Gwinnett County School District would talk to Davis on camera, but in a written statement, a school representative said, "Hearing officers consider witness testimony. A review of the known facts and a student's past disciplinary history-- including long-term suspensions that result in alternative school placement-- (are used) when determining consequences. "
Sam and his mother admit he was expelled in ninth grade for fighting and that he finished out that year in an alternative school.
The McNairs claim Sam has had no trouble since.
"Ever since 10th grade I haven't been in the office at all. If I'm in the office it's for something good," said Sam McNair.
Sam and his mother say the expulsion for the rest of this year will ruin Sam's college plans.
Sam is a football player for Duluth High. He told Davis he was counting on a football scholarship. His mother says the expulsion will ruin that.
"We're not in a financial position to put him in a private school. If he's expelled from Gwinnett County, no other county is going to want to accept (him) in school. So you are derailing his future for him," said April McNair.
The McNairs will appeal. That appeal won't be heard until after the holidays.