Marlon Anderson has worked as a security officer for over a decade in Madison public schools. He spent eight years working at East High School, and the past three years at West High School.
Yesterday, Anderson was fired by the Madison Metropolitan School Board for using a prohibited racial epithet last week while attempting to resolve a situation involving a student. The word starts with an ‘N’ and is a derogatory, racially-charged slur directed at black people.
Last week Wednesday, Anderson responded to a call about a disruptive student. He found the student being escorted from the building by the assistant principal Jennifer Taracyzk. He attempted to intervene when the student pushed the assistant principal’s hand off his shoulder.
The student, who is black, then started shouting epithets towards Anderson including the racially charged slur. Anderson, who is also black, says he did not raise his voice or touch the student but responded to the student using the same word, by saying, “Do not call me that, do not call me [that slur].”
Two days later, Anderson was called into West High’s principal’s office and was informed of the district’s zero-tolerance policy of staff using that particular racial slur.
Kaleem Caire is a community leader and founder and CEO of One City Schools, a nonprofit charter school. Care says he’s known Marlon Anderson through the community for a long time, and was with him when he was called in to meet with human resources at Madison Metropolitan School District to discuss the incident this Monday.
Caire recalls his shock during their meeting.
“I then paused them [and] I said, ‘I just you to know, regardless of what you do, whether you support him or not, I’m going to address this issue because there have been other people that have been impacted by this narrow, lazy reading of whatever policy you’ve created’,” Caire says.
“I think it’s wrong, and I don’t think it’s fair. I asked if anyone [around there] was an attorney, [someone] said she was, and I said well then you understand that in a court of law context is important.”
Gloria Reyes, MMSD School Board President, says the board plans on reviewing their no tolerance policy.
“I think it is an opportunity for the Board to review our current policy through a racial equity line, and I think it is a process that we’re going to have to move ourselves through and really lean into this and listen to our students and our community,” Reyes says.
The Cap Times reports that Madison Teachers Inc., the union which represents teachers and staff, filed a grievance in Anderson’s termination, saying the firing was without just cause. The grievance is asking the school board to skip steps in the formal grievance process, and move directly to the selection of an independent hearing examiner.
Channel3000 reports that some students at Madison West High School are planning a walkout on Friday in protest of Anderson’s termination.