Kandice Mason, a sixth-grade teacher at West Hoke County Middle School, was suspended with pay after Hoke County Public Schools found out about her job as a part-time pole dance instructor, ABC 11 reports.
The school found a video of Mason's work as a pole dance instructor on her private Facebook account. Mason believes the video may have been pointed out to her district superiors by some "malicious" person.
"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," said the single mother of two. Along with her pole dancing instruction credentials, Mason has a master's degree in psychology, a bachelor's in English and a phlebotomy certificate.
Mason said she was told she violated one of the school's policies, which reads, "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."
In the video, which was reportedly sent to the system's assistant superintendent, Mason did a routine to Eminem's "Superman."
"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."
However, Mason said she went into pole dancing as a means of de-stressing.
"It was my outlet, my sanctuary, my peace, my go-to to unwind, my time to be free. Letting everything go and just be myself, no matter what form that took," Mason said. "I remember the first heartache I and my daughters felt when I found out I didn’t get the position that would take me off government assistance. My girls were so saddened they were crying. I felt so horrible for what happened I cried too. I blamed myself. I began to ask if I should keep my passion or part with it."
Mason confirmed she would try to appeal the school's decision to get her job back.
"I've never felt ashamed of pole dancing. It's just an art for me. I just don't see it as negative," said Mason.
"Kandice Mason has been suspended with pay pending an investigation," noted Hoke County Schools representative Donna Thomas. Mason's case will be reviewed by the Hoke County School Board, which will have the final say on the matter.
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