A Black security guard at a Wisconsin high school said he was fired after saying the N-word in front of a student and the school’s assistant principal.
The messed up part about this whole thing is that the guard, Marlon Anderson, simply repeated the slur to defend himself against a student who used the word against him.
The Madison Metropolitan School District has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to racial slurs for its employees.
Anderson told the outlet it all began on Oct. 9, when he saw the West High School assistant principal, Jennifer Talarczyk, escorting a student outside the building. Anderson said he intervened once he saw the student, who is also black, push Talarczyk’s hand off his shoulder; it was at this time, the student began using obscenities and called Anderson the N-word.
Anderson, who had worked for the school district for 11 years, was officially terminated Wednesday. He told Madison365 that he felt as though the assistant principal had set him up, as she allegedly held up her radio to his face while he was telling the student not to use the slur. The audio was potentially heard by other staff members who are equipped with earpieces.
“I have a radio too, so I could hear myself saying, ‘Don’t call me that word,'” Anderson said. “And it made me kind of look at her like, wow, she’s just targeting me. She’s just trying to set me up. That was going through my head. So I finished that sentence, ‘Stop calling me the N-word,’ and she’s still saying, ‘You need to step back, you need to back off.’ And I basically told her, and you need to address, this student who is calling me the N-word, and not once did you correct his behavior, but you’re yelling at me.”
A number of community members have expressed support for Anderson and have called on the district to give him his job back. Many have said the zero-tolerance policy fails to take context into consideration, and that Anderson’s case did not warrant termination. The Cap Times reports Madison Teachers Inc.—a union consisting of education professionals—has filed a grievance against the district on Anderson’s behalf. The union is seeking job reinstatement and back pay.
School board president Gloria Reyes said she will “allow for that (grievance) process to play out” as the board re-examines its zero-tolerance policy pertaining to racial slurs.
“We’ve taken a tough stance on racial slurs, and we believe that language has no place in schools,” she 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.”
He deserves his job back.