President Barack Obama. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
By David Jackson, USA TODAY
Another sign that this is going to be a rough election year.
A North Carolina school system has suspended a teacher as it looks into an argument she had with a student over the coming contest between President Obama and Mitt Romney.
Among other things, the teacher said it was illegal to criticize a president.
A classmate videotaped the argument, via a cellphone pointed at the ceiling.
Conservative news outlets picked up the story and the video went viral, propelling the Rowan-Salisbury School System into the spotlight.
As of Tuesday morning, the video had more than 725,000 hits on YouTube.
The Salisbury (N.C.) Post, which broke the story over the weekend, reports on the incident that took place at North Rowan High School:
Neither of the key players from the video is currently at North Rowan.
Teacher Tanya Dixon-Neely was placed on paid suspension Monday as the district investigates the incident.
Senior Hunter Rogers has been pulled out of the school by his parents and plans to obtain his high school equivalency certificate from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
The video captures Dixon-Neely telling Rogers that it's criminal to slander a president.
It begins with a classroom conversation about a recent news story detailing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney bullying a classmate in prep school. It turns into a heated, sometimes confrontational debate. After Rogers asks "Didn't (President Barack) Obama bully someone, though?"
Dixon-Neely fires back "Not to my knowledge."
Dixon-Neely tells Rogers he will not disrespect the president in her classroom and goes on to say that people were arrested for saying derogatory things about former president George W. Bush.