UPDATE (WKOW) — The union representing Madison teachers and staff filed a grievance today to have a security guard reinstated who was fired yesterday over his response to a racial slur.
Marlon Anderson, a security guard at Madison West High School says he was fired Wednesday after a student used a racial slur against him and he repeated the word when he told the teen not to use it.
The grievance requires a hearing by an impartial officer, according to Doug Keillor, Executive Director of MTI.
MTI is asking Anderson be reinstated and get backpay.
“We hope the school board will modify their action earlier and get him back to work” Keillor said.
Madison School District officials say they have zero tolerance for employees saying racial slurs. But Anderson says he was just trying to defend himself after a disruptive student unleashed a number of obscenities.
On his Facebook page, Anderson responded to the firing, writing, “MMSD I unfortunately expected better.”
A Change.org petition has been launched seeking that Anderson be reinstated.
“Marlon made West a better place and most importantly made it bearable and we aren’t gonna let them falsely fire him like this,” read the description.
The petition had nearly 1,500 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.
Board of Education president Gloria Reyes acknowledged the growing controversy in a statement Thursday.
“This is an incredibly difficult situation, and we acknowledge the emotion, harm and complexity involved. Many people in our community and our district are grappling with that complexity, and we will continue to do so as we go forward,” she said.
Her statement continued:
“We are working to make our school climates the best they can be for all students and staff. We’ve taken a tough stance on racial slurs, and we believe that language has no place in schools.
“We have also heard from the community about the complexity involved – and our duty to examine it. As a board, we plan to review our approach, the underlying policies, and examine them with a racial equity lens understanding that universal policies can often deepen inequities. We will ask the community for help in that process. I have requested that this item be placed on our board agenda as soon as possible.
“In addition, there is a grievance process that has been initiated in this incident and we will allow for that process to play out so we can ensure the outcome is right for all involved.
Following the incident Wednesday, West High Principal Karen Boran sent an email to families Wednesday afternoon that racial slurs are not acceptable in schools, regardless of context or circumstance.
The school district letter:
Dear West Families,
I’m writing to inform you of a serious incident that occurred at West High School last week. The incident involves a staff member using a racial slur with students. We have investigated the incident, and the staff member will not return to West.
As you know, our expectation when it comes to racial slurs has been very clear. Regardless of context or circumstance, racial slurs are not acceptable in our schools. It is a standard we will continue to hold for professional conduct, that has been applied consistently and will continue to be applied consistently.
I also want to ask for your partnership as we work to make our school climate the very best it can be for all of our students and our staff. If you have any questions or need support, please reach out.