DYERSBURG, Tenn. (AP) — A Dyer County High School student was sent to the principal’s office on Monday morning after saying “bless you” to another student who sneezed.
Seventeen-year-old Kendra Turner told the State Gazette the phrase was on a list of things students were not allowed to say in that class, including “my bad,” ”hang out,” ”dumb,” ”stupid” and “stuff.”
Assistant Principal Lynn Garner on Tuesday said he could not discuss the specifics of what happened, but he said there are “two sides to every story.”
Garner also said teachers can set their own classroom rules as long as they are reasonable.
“If a teacher asks his or her students to do something reasonable to avoid a distraction in the classroom, then we expect the students to follow the rules,” Garner said. “If it’s not a reasonable request, then we’ll sit down and talk about it to get it right.”
According to Turner, after she said “bless you,” the teacher stood up and asked who had spoken.
“She asked why I said it, and I told her I was being courteous, and she asked me who told me that it was courtesy?” Turner said. “I told her my pastor and my parents taught me to say it.”
Turner was then instructed to go to the principal’s office where she was placed in in-school-suspension for the remainder of the period, as a matter of routine. She was allowed to attend her next class.
Turner held a news conference on Tuesday at the Dyersburg First Assembly of God to talk about the incident.
“I want God to be able to be talked about in school,” she said. “I want them to realize that God is in control and they’re not.”
Turner also said she did not want the teacher who punished her to be “bashed” because “that’s kind of harmful and disrespectful.”
Garner said the incident had been blown out of proportion on social media.
“In this case, this was not a religious issue at all, but more of an issue the teacher felt was a distraction in her class,” he said.
(Copyright 2014, The Associated Press, All rights reserved.)