A student in Wisconsin is said to have repetitively used the n-word last week during a heated exchange with a high school security assistant, however in the end, the security guard lost his job.
When security assistant, Marlon Anderson, said he tried to explain what the word meant and how offensive it was, his use of the word ultimately cost him his job.
On Oct.9 Anderson said despite repeated requests to refrain from use of the slur, the student kept calling him a “nigger” during their exchange at West High School in Madison. Anderson and the student are both Black, The New York Times reported.
Less than a week after the conversation, Anderson was terminated from employment due to the school districts zero-tolerance policy on the use of derogatory language by staff members.
The West High community is now uniting in the fight with Anderson to get his job back. He said the school system’s rule failed him in his use of the n-word.
“So if the class is reading ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and the teacher is reading the book out loud and it gets to the part where the N-word is, the teacher gets fired?” Mr. Anderson asked.
The Madison Metropolitan School District, school board president, Gloria Reyes said in a statement on Thursday, they hear the community and will reexamine the matter.
“We’ve taken a tough stance on racial slurs, and we believe that language has no place in schools,” Ms. Reyes said. “We have also heard from the community about the complexity involved — and our duty to examine it.”
“As a board, we plan to review our approach, the underlying policies, and examine them with a racial equity lens understanding that universal policies can often deepen inequities. 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,” she said.
Anderson, has worked at both West High School and East High School in Madison for over 10 years. He said the incident began when an assistant principal radioed for assistance with a disruptive student, according to The New York Times.
The student, a senior, finished classes for the day and took another student’s cell phone when the assistant principal stepped in, the student then pushed the assistant principal, according to Anderson.
Anderson then tried to escort the student out of the building and while doing so, he said the student called him “nigger” about 15 times. The security assistant then repeated the word when telling the student not to use it.
Assistant principal, Jennifer Talarczyk, turned on the microphone of her walkie-talkie, so that Anderson could be overheard by school officials in the building.
“I’m not going to be called that word. I have a right to not be called that word, I believe. I feel like she tolerated it for the entire ordeal,” Anderson said.
Two days after the incident Anderson was asked to leave by the school’s principal, Karen Boran.
On Friday, Many students participated in a walkout and marched to the district administration building in Madison. Also included with these students was Anderson’s son, Noah Anderson, a senior and president of the Black Student Union. Madison Teachers Inc., teacher union also filed a grievance on Anderson’s behalf.