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North Paulding student who took viral hallway photo says suspension lifted

Hannah Watters spoke to 11Alive's Natisha Lance last night before the suspension was canceled.

PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. — Hannah Watters, the 15-year-old North Paulding High School student whose photo of a packed hallway on Tuesday generated headlines across the country, said on Twitter her suspension had been lifted.

It comes after a considerable outcry following news that Watters was suspended in the first place for taking the picture and posting it to social media.

She told 11Alive's Natisha Lance last night that staff told students they could be punished for criticizing the school on social media. She felt like the school was trying to make an example of her.

RELATED: Student says she was suspended after photo of crowded school hallway went viral

“We thought that I would get a slap on the wrist since it was my first offense,” she told Natisha.

Early Friday morning she wrote on Twitter that the school told her the suspension had been canceled.

"This morning my school called and they have deleted my suspension. To everyone supporting me, I can’t thank you enough," she wrote. "To be 100% clear, I can go back to school on Monday. I couldn’t have done this without all the support, thank you."

The original photo and video shows a crammed hallway at North Paulding High School on Tuesday, which was the second day of the school year. Watters said she posted the picture to her Twitter account after feeling uneasy.

“I was mostly anxious nervous and scared because this virus is very serious obviously and we weren’t taking the right precautions to keep people from getting it at the school," she said. "So I took that picture out of concern for the county and all the kids there and all the teachers and staff."

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The next day, the honor student said she was pulled out of class and informed she’d be suspended.

According to the district’s code of conduct, she used her phone without permission during school hours. But the code also says 9th to 12th graders are allowed to use phones in the hallway.

Watters did not expect her posts to take off like they have. When she posted it to Twitter, she had 8 followers; at last check she had nearly 1,000. She said it’s not her goal to see the school shut down, but she wants to see masks enforced.

“I want to stay opened up, but we can’t if we don’t stay safe and don’t follow protocols,” she said.


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