SUWANEE - The family of a Peachtree Ridge High School student is considering suing her teacher after she was suspended Monday for singing a song that alludes to killing.
Beth Anne Cox, 16, was suspended for five days after she sang the parody of a children's song, "On Top of Old Smokey," to another student in her German class. The lyrics of the song include: "On top of Old Smokey, all covered in blood, I shot my poor teacher with a .44 slug."
This wasn't the first time the student had a conflict with her German teacher, Phil Carroll, according to her mother, Suzanne Cox. But she said Beth Anne had not intended the song to reflect her feelings about the teacher.
"We are very upset. We feel that Dr. Carroll has some kind of a vendetta out for our daughter. And he used this to take a stand against her," Suzanne Cox said.
The teacher didn't talk to her about it in class on Friday, but the high school junior was pulled out of another class a few hours later and asked by administrators why she had threatened the teacher. On Monday morning, she was suspended before she went to her first class.
Beth Anne said she hadn't directed the song lyrics at her teacher.
"I'd had a song stuck in my head all day, like the tune of it," Beth Anne said. "So I was just humming the tune to myself. This kid in front of me asked me about the song. So I told him the words. I didn't say them loudly. I was just talking underneath my voice. But I was not blatantly saying it or singing it."
School administrators told Beth Anne they would also revoke her permissive transfer, which means she would not be returning to Peachtree Ridge next year. Her parents said they had requested she go there rather than North Gwinnett High School, which two of her older brothers attended. Another one of her brothers is now a senior at Peachtree Ridge.
Sloan Roach, spokeswoman for the school district, defended the administrators' decision to suspend Beth Anne because she had been interrupting the class session.
"Any kind of classroom disruption, which obviously singing out loud in class would be, the school can take and should take disciplinary action, and in this case appropriate disciplinary action was taken," Roach said.
The family plans to meet with their attorney today to discuss possible legal proceedings. They thought it was unfair for the teacher to report her, and school administrators to make her transfer to North Gwinnett at the beginning of her senior year.
Her mother also said she was worried the suspension would affect Beth Anne's academic record because it coincides with her final exams and papers.
"This might affect her HOPE Scholarship. This might affect her being admitted to any college. This is disrupting my daughter's life way too much," Suzanne Cox said.
The school system declined to comment further on the situation because no official legal action has been taken.
"In regards to a lawsuit, there has not yet been a lawsuit filed, and therefore I'm not at liberty to discuss it," Roach said.