Suspended teacher: Students call themselves idiot, retarded

A South Carolina school district has suspended a special education teacher after she used the terms "idiot," ''stupid" and "retarded" in a letter requesting her students be exempted from taking standardized tests.

Media outlets report that Tracie Happel teaches in the Oconee County School District and said the terms in the letter are those that her students use to describe themselves, not those she would ever use to describe them.

Happel said she used the word "retarded" in quotations because one student describes himself as that almost daily and she says it breaks her heart.

Happel says she was placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into allegations she called her students derogatory names.

A spokeswoman said the school district does not discuss personnel matters.