South Carolina teacher Laurie Humphrey has been removed from the classroom for a politically charged sign placed in her classroom, WLTX reports.
The Dutch Fork High School social studies teacher in Irmo, S.C., drew complaints from parents and students after displaying a placard that reads, "The road to hell is paved with Democrats" in her government class.
Humphrey is still employed but is not currently teaching. It's unclear whether she is still being paid as district officials investigate to "make sure the students are taken care of and that we're fair to the teacher," Lexington-Richland 5 schools spokesperson Mark Bounds told WLTX.
Humphrey has been an educator for 15 years, spending 11 of those teaching in the area, according to WIS. Bounds tells the station that the district takes the issue seriously and is working to prevent similar future incidents.
"She used really poor judgement," Bounds told WIS. "This teacher's actions are clear violations of Board policy and the District's directives… Being a teacher doesn't take away your rights as a citizen. So, after hours on your own time we encourage teachers, we want them to be politically active, but they shouldn't do it in a way that makes any student feel uncomfortable."
In anticipation of heightened political activity during the election year, the district explicitly outlined policies for school employees involved in politics. The rules read, in part:
The board opposes those actions that transform the schools into arenas for political activity. Activities that substantially disrupt or materially interfere with school activities are prohibited. Prohibited activities include the distribution of any cards, fliers, pamphlets, brochures, signs, pins, badges or any other political paraphernalia espousing any political party or candidate at any time on any district property during regular school hours.
Bounds tells The State that "there will be lots of questions we ask as we deal with this situation," including whether the sign was placed as part of a political campaigns lesson.
Over the years, particularly during election season, educators have repeatedly sparked controversy for bringing politics into the classroom. In 2009, a video surfaced of students from a Burlington, N.J. "singing the praises of President Obama." The song was reportedly part of a school project, and included lines like "Obama loves the little children," touting the president's "great plans" to "make this country's economy No. 1 again."
The principal reportedly received death threats as a result, and the state department of education launched an investigation into the incident.
In May, Spencer, N.C. teacher Tanya Dixon-Neely was placed on paid suspension after she was caught on tape telling a student that he could be arrested for saying negative things about the president. In the video that subsequently went viral on the Internet, the student says that Obama and Romney are "just men." The North Rowan High School social studies teacher disagreed.
"Listen, let me tell you something, you will not disrespect the president of the United States in this classroom," Dixon Neely is heard saying. "Do you realize that people were arrested for saying things bad about Bush? Do you realize you are not supposed to slander the president?"
And just this month, Philadelphia high school sophomore Samantha Pawlucy made national headlines after geometry teacher Lynette Gaymon mocked the student for wearing a Mitt Romney T-shirt. The geometry teacher at Charles Carroll High reportedly told the teen to take her shirt off because she's in a "Democratic school," adding that wearing the pro-Romney shirt is analogous to the teacher, who is black, wearing a KKK shirt.
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