A North Carolina middle school teacher says she was suspended from her job after videos of her pole-dancing instructional videos leaked to the administration of the school system.
Kandice Mason was all set to begin teaching her new sixth graders at West Hoke County Middle School. The single mother of two had already been given a classroom and was ready to meet her students, reported ABC 11.
In addition to teaching, Mason, who has a masters in Psychology, bachelors in English, and a certificate in phlebotomy, is a self-taught dancer. She typically finds pole-dancing to be a tremendous stress reliever.
"That's how I stay in shape. That's how I feel like I can express myself and have time for myself," Mason told ABC 11.
Recently, Kandice posted a video of her pole dancing to her private Facebook account, yet the video someone made its way to someone in the Hoke County Public School System.
"I've worked so hard to try and make sure I can provide for my daughters and our livelihood to have it jeopardized just for doing something that I'm passionate about," Mason told the local news station.
Mason said she was at orientation at West Hoke County Middle School when she was asked to come to the principal's office for an emergency meeting with an assistant superintendent. In this meeting, the assistant superintendent had pulled up a video of Mason dancing to “Superman” by Eminem that was posted to her Facebook page.
"The superintendent, the principal, and another woman basically berated me about how my song choice was vulgar, and that if parents found out they would have an issue," Mason told Buzzfeed News. "She also asked me what I thought seventh- and eighth-grade boys would think and whether they would still view me as a teacher."
Although Hoke County Schools confirmed Mason was suspended with pay, they would not specify why Mason was suspended. The school system provided the following statement through representative Donna Thomas:
"Kandice Mason has been suspended with pay pending an investigation."
Mason showed ABC11 the policy that the school told her she violated.
"As role models for the school system, students, however, employees are responsible for their public conduct ... even when they are not performing their job duties as employees of the school system," said Mason.
Mason has never been ashamed of her dancing, which she views as an artistic expression.
"I dance because it’s in my heart, it’s in my soul. I dance because it makes me feel free. It’s a huge part of my identity," she told Buzzfeed News. "Telling me not to dance would be like telling a ballerina to dance in a closet. It would be like telling a butterfly not to fly."
Mason's case could go before the Hoke County School Board, which would have the final say regarding her employment.