The Daily Grind Video

A high school student in Duluth, Georgia is facing some harsh punishment after hugging a teacher at Duluth High School.

Sam McNair, a 17-year-old senior, has been suspended for one year and will not graduate on time after a school hearing officer determined he violated the Gwinnett County Public Schools’ rules on sexual harassment by hugging the teacher.

“Something so innocent can be perceived as something totally opposite,” said Sam.

He has also been stripped of his college scholarship, which will make it difficult for him to fund his education. A video, above, shows how the incident played out.

A video of the hug, captured by a surveillance camera, shows McNair enter a room, place his arms around the back and front of the teacher and tuck his head behind her neck.

According to a discipline report, the teacher alleged McNair’s cheeks and lips touched the back of her neck and cheek.

Sam denied he kissed his teacher or sexually harassed her. He also said he regularly hugs his teachers and has never been disciplined for it. But the discipline report alleges that Sam was warned that the hugs were inappropriate.

Sharese Shields Ages, an education attorney not associated with the case, said school districts have a responsibility to crack down on sexual harassment but also thoroughly educate students about what constitutes sexual harassment.

“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,” said Shields Ages.

Sloan Roach, a spokesperson for Gwinnett County Public Schools, would not comment on McNair’s case but said in a statement that “hearing officers consider witness testimony, a review of the known facts, and a student’s past disciplinary history…when determining consequences.”

Sam’s mother, April, was surprised about his suspension, saying the district had a responsibility to notify her if her son’s hugging was becoming problematic before it derailed his college plans.

“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,” said April McNair.

Did the school take it too far? Sound off below.