A Madison middle school teacher who has been on leave since using a racial slur against a student has resigned, according to a letter sent to parents today.
“We know that the past two weeks have been challenging for our school community, and we want to thank you for taking care of one another in support of all of our students,” Hamilton Middle School Principal Jessica Taylor wrote in the letter. “We are writing to update you that the staff member involved in the incident using a racial slur has resigned and will not be returning to MMSD. We want to acknowledge that this information likely raises many different emotions for various members of our community.”
“We have closed the investigation. We have taken appropriate action and used all available options to come to a resolution. The teacher will not return to MMSD,” district spokesperson Rachel Strauch-Nelson said in an email to Madison365.
As Madison365 first reported, on November 1, a student at Hamilton Middle School alleged that a seventh grade teacher repeatedly said, “How would I like it if I called you a n*****?” to her, the only African American student in the class, apparently in response to the student using objectionable language. The teacher was instructed not to return to school pending an investigation.
At the time, the student’s mother called on her friend Sabrina Madison, founder of the Progress Center for Black Women, who frequently advocates for women and girls. Madison said the school’s administration were receptive, respectful and seemed to be taking the situation seriously.
The student spent several days out of school, at least in part because other students used racial slurs against her the following day.
“One of her peers from the same classroom taunting her, calling her the n-word,” the student’s mother said. “It kinda normalized it and now students have called her this.”
The student’s mother said she was told late last week that the teacher would return to the classroom November 19, but Strauch-Nelson said further discussions among administrators led to a change in course.
In an email to all Madison Metropolitan School District staff, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said racial slurs have no place in schools.
“What happened is unacceptable, no matter what the context or the circumstance,” she wrote. “The hurt and harm that such an act causes a student, a family, and in turn, an entire school and community, is astoundingly deep. MMSD has adopted a set of core values that include excellence, belonging, racial equity and social justice. Such an act contradicts and undermines these core values and our fundamental belief in the brilliance and capability of the students we serve. In no way can we, as a community, accommodate or make excuses for actions that hurt the very students we have dedicated our lives to help. This is not who we are in MMSD.”
Cheatham also said two more incidents of “inappropriate racial language” in schools have been reported since this incident took place. Strauch-Nelson said one of those involved a substitute teacher at East High School who used an inappropriate racial slur toward a student and has since been barred from teaching in the district again. The other is an allegation of an inappropriate racial slur by a teacher at West High School that remains under investigation. The staff member is not at the school pending the outcome of the investigation.
“In every case, we have acted swiftly and are taking appropriate action,” Cheatham wrote.
This is a developing story and will be updated.