A high school teacher in North Carolina has been placed on leave following reports that the educator suggested that harm should come to Vice President Mike Pence while he was in the state campaigning for Republicans ahead of the recent special congressional elections.
Fox affiliate WJZY in Charlotte reported that the unnamed teacher at Cuthbertson High School is alleged to have told students that Pence should be “shot in the head” while visiting North Carolina to campaign on behalf of Dan Bishop, who won the special election for the state’s Ninth Congressional District.
Local authorities were alerted, and according to the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the information was then passed along to the U.S. Secret Service for further investigation.
Inappropriate and “out of bounds”
Firas Obeid, a parent with two students enrolled at Cuthbertson, told WJZY that while he wasn’t a supporter of the vice president, he nonetheless believed it was inappropriate for anyone, much less a teacher in front of students, to speak openly about harming the vice president.
“This is the Vice President of the United States. He’s an elected official,” Obeid said. “Affiliation to a specific party does not entitle us to make a statement like that to anyone.”
That view was shared by the chair of the Union County GOP, Allison Powers, who wouldn’t go as far as to say that the teacher should be fired, but did express a belief that the school board needed to take some sort of action to address the situation.
“You should not be bringing in those type of viewpoints to your job,” Powers said. “To just wish that kind of violence on anybody is just way out of bounds.”
Placed on administrative leave
A request for comment with school board chair Melissa Merrell went unanswered, but district representative Gary Sides wrote on Facebook, “I can assure you it will be taken seriously.”
ABC affiliate WSOC-TV reported that the teacher has since been placed on administrative leave while an investigation into the alleged threat against the vice president is conducted.
“Union County Public Schools is taking the alleged inappropriate comments made by a Cuthbertson High School teacher very seriously,” the district said in a statement. “Upon learning about the alleged comments, the teacher was immediately placed on administrative leave last week and there is an ongoing investigation into this matter.”
“The Secret Service is aware of the reported comments made by the teacher. In addition, this is a personnel matter and information related to the investigation is protected by law,” the district added.
Whether the teacher who allegedly made the comments was serious or not, it is never acceptable to make assassination threats — especially in front of impressionable students — and, hopefully, assuming first that the Secret Service determines no criminal justice action is necessary, the district holds the teacher accountable for the innapropriate remarks.