Although Tanya Dixon-Neely has been suspended without pay, she will return next school year, when she will be required to start a monitored growth plan, Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom said in a press release.
The district received national attention when a nearly 10-minute video of Dixon-Neely and senior Hunter Rogers engaging in a heated political debate went viral. In the video, the Dixon-Neely can be heard telling Rogers that he could be criminally charged for speaking ill of President Obama and that people had been charged for insulting former President George W. Bush.
“As I have stated to our entire school system staff, I expect all teachers to be professional during class discussion and not to force their personal or political views on students, demean students, or instruct students on what to believe,” Grissom said in the release. “Teachers must create a positive instructional environment conducive to learning within the guidelines of our state curriculum.
“Ms. Dixon-Neely’s failure to meet these standards during the recorded portion of class is the basis for my disciplinary action against her.”
But Grissom said school administrators report the recording does not reflect Dixon-Neely’s usual performance as a teacher. She received two formal classroom observations before the recording in May, both positive.
Before taking on a role in the regular classroom setting, Dixon-Neely had been assigned as a teacher in the district’s Alternative to Suspension program, which relocated to North Rowan last fall.
During the second semester, she was transferred to a regular classroom due to staffing needs, Grissom said.
“While I remain deeply concerned about the performance documented in the recording of Ms. Dixon-Neely’s classroom, I have concluded that she should have a chance to improve her teaching skills,” Grissom said. “Under these circumstances, suspension without pay for 10 work days and a requirement that Ms. Dixon-Neely complete a monitored growth plan is an appropriate resolution.
“Ms. Dixon-Neely also will be reassigned to her position in the Alternative to Suspension Program.”
Grissom said she’s ready for the district to move beyond the incident, noting Dixon-Neely has received messages that include racist language and sentiments and that teachers throughout the school system have been criticized.