School security guard fired for using n-word gets job back

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- The Madison Metropolitan School District rescinded the termination of a staff member, who was fired last week for using a racial slur.

Marlon Anderson.

According to a release from the union, Madison Teachers Inc., the Madison Metropolitan School District decided Monday to rescind the termination of Marlon Anderson, a security guard at Madison West High School.

MMSD added that Anderson will return to paid status immediately, including full benefits, and that he will remain on paid leave while a transition plan is finalized to return him to work.

Anderson was fired by the district after a black student said the n-word during an exchange, and Anderson repeated the racial slur when he told the teen not to use it. At the time, district leaders said Anderson was fired for violating its “zero-tolerance policy” for using the racial slur on school grounds.

The incident garnered national attention after hundreds of students at Madison West High School protested the firing in a massive walkout last Friday.

Anderson's son, Noah, organized the walkout as President of the West Black Student Union: “A slur is directed towards somebody to be derogatory. What my father did was he told, he took a teaching moment as an African-American male to a younger African-American male why he shouldn’t use the word and why to not refer to himself that way,” Noah said Friday afternoon.

The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County meanwhile offered Anderson a temporary job, until the district gave him his old job back. Monday was set to be Anderson's first day on the job in that position.

WATCH NBC15'S INTERVIEW WITH MARLON ANDERSON:

After learning that he was getting his job back, Anderson told NBC15 in an exclusive interview just after 5 p.m. Monday that the last week has been "probably the most humbling experience I’ve had in my life."

"I thank God for the support. I thank God for the students and I’m so proud that they got out there and they fought, and that they made it happen," Anderson said. "I showed love and I got it back, and I think that’s a beautiful thing ... I think it’s something everyone should focus on, because we fight each other so much over silly stuff."

Anderson says he hopes the district also reexamines the zero-tolerance policy, saying it cannot work in every situation.

“I understand the intent for it, but it's too rigid,” he said. “It's too lazy. It needs to be addressed. It needs to be dealt with. You're dealing with people with PhDs. You're educated people. You can come up with a solution that works for everyone.”

Earlier on Monday, Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes asked MMSD Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore in a letter to rescind Anderson's termination. Belmore was named Interim Superintendent for the 2019-2020 school year in June after the resignation of then-Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. Belmore is a former Madison teacher, principal and assistant superintendent.

"We are at a critical time in this community and in our nation where racial inequality and racism continues to persist and we must continue to fight against the injustices of our past, present and future," according to the letter from Reyes.

Also on Monday, the union Madison Teachers Inc., demanded that the district give him his job back. The union had already filed a grievance with the district over Anderson's firing.

Michael Johnson, the CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County and community leader, called the district to give Anderson his old job over the weekend. Johnson said the district “made a misstep” in immediately terminating Anderson, a result of the zero-tolerance policy on racial slurs.

Johnson called on the district to "put together a committee of students, teachers, educators and leaders of color to rewrite the behavior policy to ensure that context matter so both students and school staff are protected."

Johnson appeared with Anderson on Monday when the district announced it would rescind the termination.