A North Carolina teacher was suspended last week after she allegedly segregated students based on their religious beliefs and asked them about about their stances on various political issues.
Julia Lopp, a first-year Spanish teacher at South Johnston High School in Johnston County, is accused of lining students up on opposite sides of the classroom based on their religious beliefs, ABC affiliate WTVD reported.
She also allegedly asked students about their stance on abortion rights and support for the LGBT community.
According to the Johnston County Report, the incident occurred on Oct. 25.
Lopp allegedly warned students that if they told their parents or faculty, she would not give them job or college recommendations.
The school district is now investigating Lopp, who is suspended with pay pending the results.
Superintendent Dr Jim Causby called the incident “unfortunate.”
“It is never appropriate for a teacher to segregate students based on religious, political or personal beliefs. In fact, it is not appropriate for a teacher to even ask a student what their beliefs are,” Causby said in a statement. “Our school system takes very seriously the rights of students in these areas and students should never be instructed to not share classroom activities with their parents.”
Some outlets cited the Johnson County Report’s coverage to claim that Lopp had verbally ridiculed students who said they believed in God.
The Johnson County Report article has since been updated and the reference to Lopp mocking students has been removed.
An editor’s note issued by the Johnson County Report explains that the “parent of the student who provided this information now says they did not fully understand the intent of the teacher.”
So far more than 350 people have signed a petition campaigning for Lott’s reinstatement.
“As a fellow teacher, I feel Ms. Lopp was trying to teach diversity and how we can all get along, even if we have different beliefs!!” one commenter said in response to the petition.
Some students who participated in the activity told a local news outlet the controversy had been blown out of proportion.