Education

Madison substitute teacher on leave as school investigates 'serious' incident involving racial slur

MADISON, Wis. - A Madison substitute teacher is on leave as the school investigates a "serious incident" involving the use of a racial slur, an official said. 

Hamilton Middle School Principal John Burkholder said in a letter to students' families Thursday that the teacher used a racial slur while a student was present, and that the district is investigating. 

The teacher was put on leave, according to the letter. 

Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director Doug Keillor told News 3 Now the union doesn't comment on incidents that are still under investigation by the district. 

"While I cannot get into details, I want to emphasize that racial slurs have no place in our school," Burkholder wrote. 

The school said its top priority has been to support the student involved and take the appropriate next steps, "and that is where our focus has been."

 

 

"We will remain focused on supporting our students and making our school climate safe and caring for all students, and ask for your help in that work," Burkholder wrote.

In the last year, multiple Madison school staff have been fired for using racial slurs at school. A teacher at Madison East and another at Madison West, were removed from Madison classrooms in November 2018 after they reportedly used racial slurs. That same month, a Velma Hamilton Middle School teacher resigned from the district after she was accused of yelling the N-word at a 12-year-old student. 

The district initially fired Madison West High School security guard Marlon Anderson in mid-October, citing its zero-tolerance policy on racial slurs. Anderson argued his case was different because he was asking a student to stop using the term. The Madison teachers' union filed a grievance on behalf of Anderson with the district, and West High School students held a walkout in support of Anderson. Even superstar musician Cher weighed in on Twitter, offering to pay for a lawsuit against the MMSD board. 

MMSD reinstated Anderson's job on Oct. 21.

 

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