Students walk out to protest firing of security guard over racial slur

Students protest firing of security guard

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV/Gray News) - Madison West High School students walked from the school to school district offices Friday morning in support of a black security guard who was recently fired.

Marlon Anderson said 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.

The students walked from the high school on Regent Street to the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Doyle Administration Building on Dayton Street near the Kohl Center, according to a report from WMTV.

Madison Metropolitan School District officials said they have zero tolerance for employees saying racial slurs.

Marlon Anderson said he was defending himself after a disruptive student unleashed a number of obscenities.

Madison Teachers Inc., a union representing teachers and staff, is filing a grievance on behalf of Anderson.

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

On Friday, the MMSD Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore released a statement thanking students for engaging in a conversation with school leaders.

"I want to thank our students for coming today and for engaging in a conversation with us. We support our students when they disagree with us and challenge us to do better. All of us here know that education is a dynamic social process. Sometimes it gets messy when we have to grapple together around deeply held values like what it means to be anti-racist. It is often difficult to find the best way forward to determine what are the right actions to take while always holding what is best for you students at the center. But grapple we must.

This year, decisions around how to respond when a racial slur is used in school settings have been made based on practices established last year when the district took a strong stance in response to incidences of the use of racial slurs - that racial slurs will not be tolerated when said by anyone in any school setting no matter what the circumstances, in an effort to unequivocally protect students from harm, no matter the intent.

Regarding the current instance of the use of a racial slur, and in applying the position and process used last year and into the beginning of this year, different viewpoints from many facets of our community are surfacing.

Let me be clear, there is no doubt that language matters and racial slurs are harmful. However, at this point we have an opportunity to look more deeply into the response to the use of racial slurs in our schools. In order to do that, we need space for discussion and thinking more deeply about the process.

Employees always have the right to appeal decisions and we will move this process forward as quickly as possible. As we go through the appeal process, we will also be conducting a review of the current approach around racial slurs."

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