According to an email obtained by Madison365, Madison West High School support staff, which includes clerical workers, custodial workers and security staff, will ask the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education and Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore to reinstate the job of Marlon Anderson, a security guard who was terminated Wednesday after using a racial slur while telling a student not to use the same slur.
The email, sent to all West staff by Student Support Services Department Chair Taylor Newman, was a response to an email from history teacher Bradley Harris letting staff know that a student petition to reinstate Anderson was circulating.
In a response to that email, English teacher Kim Schopf wrote, “We are told context doesn’t matter, and yet every one of us has been taught to foster in our students deep understanding of a text through close reading–and to critically analyze that text by taking a position supported by evidence. This means, among other things, considering the text along with its context, subtext, even pretext. And yet we appear to be in an era where neither context nor access to evidence seems to matter.”
Newman then responded to all staff outlining the discussion had at a Support Staff meeting Thursday morning. In part, Newman wrote:
-There is no research that indicates Zero tolerance policies are effective. Instead, we believe in restorative practices, and the need for more staff and resources in education.
-The tendency for white educators to respond in silence is not a privilege we want to exercise right now.
-We will ask the school board and superintendent to reverse this decision. We are encouraging students to exercise their voices and wondering how they could do that (i.e., email/call board members, invite them to see their perspective or even come to visit classrooms or meetings at the school with students). We will actively be giving our students hope for change.
The email says it is sent “with support of Admin.” AVID school coordinator and instructional coach Danielle Borneman, who provided the email to Madison365, said all six of the building’s principals, including head principal Karen Boran and assistant principal Jennifer Talarczyk — the assistant principal who initially told Anderson to “back off” and used her microphone to broadcast his words to all support staff during the incident — disagree with the decision to terminate him, and emailed Belmore to express their disagreement.
An email to Boran seeking confirmation of this was not immediately returned.
In an email to West High parents Wednesday, Boran wrote, “As you know, our expectation when it comes to racial slurs has been very clear. Regardless of context or circumstance, racial slurs are not acceptable in our schools. It is a standard we will continue to hold for professional conduct, that has been applied consistently and will continue to be applied consistently.”
It is not clear whether Boran or anyone else had an opportunity to intervene or offer an opinion on Anderson’s termination.
Madison West students were meeting midday Thursday with Belmore, and have announced plans for a walkout Friday.