‘We need to have a real conversation’: Madison school board addresses policy on racial slurs

School board says it's working on new practices.

The Madison School Board is addressing the policies and practices that resulted in a black security guard being fired for telling a student not to call him a racial slur.

Board President Gloria Reyes brought the discussion up at the board meeting Monday, saying the board and the administration care deeply about having a school district that is anti-racist.

This followed an hour and a half of public comment from students and parents asking the board to remove police officers from schools.

“Since you all like to waste time, I’ll just play the piano.” This man closed out his remaining 2min for public comment at the ⁦@MMSDschools⁩ board meeting playing piano after saying the board hasn’t listened to his group’s years-long plea to get cops out of schools. pic.twitter.com/8q0TAYFnUf

— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) October 29, 2019

Board member Ali Muldrow commented how these two topics coming up, and the length and passion with which people spoke on it, shows how the community struggles with having these conversations about race.

Knowing that, members said the board, the district and the community need to understand the roots of the racial slurs.

“In those social institutions, this N-word was used to inflict white supremacist terror and violence,” said Savion Castro, a member of the board. “We need to have a real conversation about how that manifests in our city and in our school district.”

Reyes said the administration and the board are working to reexamine the practice surrounding the n-word. There isn’t a written policy regarding this word, and members don’t seem to want to introduce a zero-tolerance approach, though they said they want to make it clear hate speech is not a welcome part of Madison schools.

“I appreciate the acknowledgement that we need to consider circumstance and move away from zero-tolerance,” said Cris Carusi, the board treasurer. “We’ve made a commitment to do this for our youth because we’ve realized zero tolerance leads to negative outcomes for children.”

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