Amateur footage of Tanya Dixon-Neely, a social studies teacher at North Rowan High School in Spencer, N.C., telling a student he could be arrested for saying negative things about President Barack Obama has gone viral on the Internet, prompting school officials to launch an investigation, WBTV reports.
According to the station, Dixon-Neely has been placed on paid suspension pending the investigation's results.
The Salisbury Post reports that, in the nearly 10-minute video, the student can be heard saying Obama and GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney are both "just men" -- a statement the teacher refutes harshly.
“Listen, let me tell you something, you will not disrespect the president of the United States in this classroom,” Dixon-Neely says in the video.
Later in the video, the student maintains that freedom of speech allows people to say what they want without fear of punishment. But according to the footage, Dixon-Neely didn't let the discussion end there.
“Do you realize that people were arrested for saying things bad about Bush?” she's heard saying in the video. “Do you realize you are not supposed to slander the president?”
While school officials would not comment on the incident in detail due to the open investigation, they told WBTV that it should serve as a lesson to teachers about their "interaction with students."
News & Record editorial writer Doug Clark wrote Monday that the video makes him question the education Dixon-Neely's students are receiving.
"My larger concern is, if this excerpt is indicative of her teaching style and classroom management skills -- her students may not be learning much of anything," Clark writes. "This is very embarrassing for North Rowan High School and Rowan-Salisbury Schools."
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly that Dixon-Neely had been suspended without pay. The teacher was placed on a paid suspension. The article also previously misspelled Dixon-Neely's first name.