Union filing grievance on behalf of West HS guard, after being fired for repeating racial slur

By  | 

MADISON, Wis. (AP/WMTV)-- A black security guard at a Wisconsin high school says he was fired after a student used a racial slur against him and he repeated the word when he told the teen not to use it.

Madison School District officials say they have zero tolerance for employees saying racial slurs. But, Marlon Anderson says he was just trying to defend himself after a disruptive student unleashed a number of obscenities.

Madison Teachers Inc, the area's union for teachers and staff, confirms to NBC15 that the union is filing a grievance on behalf of Anderson.

MTI executive director Doug Keillor says Anderson is appealing his termination because he believes there was no just cause for it. Keillor says Anderson is seeking to get his job reinstated and receive full back pay.

There will be an hearing date set within a few weeks as the grievance process moves forward, according to Keillor.

West High Principal Karen Boran reportedly sent an email to families Wednesday afternoon that racial slurs are not acceptable in schools, regardless of context or circumstance.

Anderson says he plans to fight the termination. It's not known whether the student faces disciplinary action.

Students are planning to walkout in protest on Friday in support of Anderson.

President of the West Black Student Union and son of Marlon Anderson, Noah Anderson, said what happened is an injustice that needs to be fixed.

"I'm not impressed with this school district and what they represent," said Noah Anderson. "I think that it needs a lot of student voices and student voices need to be heard."

The students plan to walk to the Madison Metropolitan School District's Doyle Building.

"I really hope they take what we have to say into account," said Noah Anderson. "I just hope they listen."

Skyler Kieler, a freshman at Madison West, is also planning to walk-out on Friday.

"It's really bad how the school handled the situation," said Kieler. "Even though there's a zero tolerance policy, there's a difference between upholding a rule and upholding a right."

MMSD Board of Education president Gloria Reyes released a statement Thurday, saying that the school board will "review our approach, the underlying policies, and examine them with a racial equity lens understanding that universal policies can often deepen inequities."

"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…. 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.

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."

Karen Boran, Madison West High School's Principal sent a statement to families on Wednesday.

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.