Glendale High School teacher resigned after repeatedly using racial slur

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 1:35 PM CDT|Updated: May. 15, 2023 at 6:22 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield Public School District announced Monday that the Glendale High School teacher who repeatedly used a racial slur in class last week has resigned and that the student who recorded a video of the teacher using the offensive language in class has been suspended for three days.

Below is the statement from Springfield Public Schools:

The teacher who was initially placed on administrative leave following the situation at Glendale High School is no longer employed by Springfield Public Schools. Furthermore, much speculation has occurred regarding student discipline related to a video recording of the unacceptable classroom incident. Student discipline is confidential, per federal law, and Springfield Public Schools cannot disclose specifics related to actions taken. The student handbook is clear, however, on consequences for inappropriate use of electronic devices. Any consequences applied per the scope and sequence would also consider if minors are identifiable in the recording and what, if any, hardships are endured by other students due to a violation of privacy with the dissemination of the video in question. SPS is confident that the district appropriately and promptly handled all matters related to what occurred at Glendale. We want our schools to be safe and welcoming learning environments. When students have concerns, they should follow the appropriate steps for reporting.

Stephen Hall, Springfield Public Schools

On Tuesday, May 9, a student started recording a video as a classmate confronted the teacher.

Teacher, “Is the word --- not allowed?”

Student, “I’m just saying right now, as a teacher, if you want to keep your job... This isn’t a threat from me.”

Teacher, “I’m not calling anyone a --- .”

Student, “I understand.”

Teacher, “I can say the word.”

The teacher said the N-word twice in the video after reportedly saying it several times before the student started recording. She told her mom, who called Glendale High School leaders. The mother said when she arrived at the school before noon, the teacher was already being escorted out.

The student who recorded the video is a 15-year-old sophomore named Mary (we are choosing not to use her last name to protect some sense of privacy) and her family has retained an attorney from Chillicothe, Missouri to try and get SPS to reconsider its actions.

“We’ve asked them to lift the suspension, let her go back to school immediately and apologize,” said attorney Natalie Hull. “Mary saw something that she believed needed to be reported. She captured this as a news event. It was a news event and it became a news event.”

In fact, Hull said her interview with KY3 had been preceded by a call from the Washington Post and our call to her was in reference to the Washington-based National Radio Television Digital News Association sending a letter to SPS condemning the district’s suspension.

The RTDNA’s President is Dan Shelley, a former SPS student and news director at radio station KTTS in Springfield.

“I think it deserves attention nationally because the issue of the right to record public officials really came to fruition in the days immediately following the death of George Floyd,” he said. “Bear in mind the world would not have seen the full picture of what happened to George Floyd were it not for a 17-year-old girl who stood on the sidewalk and videotaped the entire incident. I’m not equating this incident with the murder of George Floyd directly. But I am saying the same principle exists as it relates to her right to record this teacher allegedly making a horrible, vile racist slur.”

Shelley and Hull also say they believe the student handbook is too restrictive.

Here is the part of the student handbook dealing with use of electronic devices:

“Class I Inappropriate Use of Electronic Devices School

Police Report at Officer Discretion. Defined as the act of using an electronic device to record, publish or display audio or visual images of events involving faculty, staff or other students in or around school premises, without approval of school personnel, and the event that is recorded, published or displayed is not “confidential.” The prohibited conduct includes such things as audio or visual recording of faculty or staff in the classroom; acts of violence; disruptions to the school environment; or other acts prohibited by the District’s Disciplinary Guidelines. The term “confidential” includes, but is not limited to an audio, video or photographic recording of faculty, staff, students or other persons which is recorded without the advance knowledge of all persons who are recorded and/or which is recorded: (1) in a location where any person who is recorded has a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a restroom, locker room or other location in or around school premises; and/or, (2) during or in conjunction with an extra-curricular or school activity; and/or (3) on a District school bus or other vehicle which transports District students; and/or, (4) which contains an image of a portion of a person’s body over which a reasonable person would have an expectation of privacy, even if the person consented to the recording.”

Hull pointed out the section that said: “The prohibited conduct includes such things as audio or visual recording of faculty or staff in the classroom; acts of violence; disruptions to the school environment; or other acts prohibited by the District’s Disciplinary Guidelines.”

“It prohibits taking photos or videos of acts of violence,” Hull said. “So if an assaulted crime occurred and someone took a video of that they could get in trouble for capturing evidence of a crime.”

“I think the handbook policy as it is currently written is unconstitutional,” added Shelley. “More than half of the U.S. District Courts of Appeal have unequivocally stated that citizens have a lawful right to record the activities of public officials. And school teachers are public officials.”

We contacted the teacher to offer to get his version of the story but he declined.

As for how the student is dealing with all this sudden turmoil?

“She’s dealing with anxiety,” Hull answered. “She didn’t ask for this. She is not the one who shared this on social media. She shared it with two people, an adult and a student, because she wanted advice on what to do next. But it spread like wildfire and made it on to social media within a half-hour. She’s still trying to come to terms with it all and doesn’t understand what she did wrong. It makes me sad because she did bring something to light that needed to be brought to light. It has sparked a national conversation about whether or not this is appropriate and certainly whether or not a geometry teacher should be having a conversation like this. Not to mention whether or not this word should ever be spoken at all. We have Mary to thank for that. She made what I and her mother call, ‘Good trouble.’”

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