Home Wisconsin Wausau teacher accused of racist, homophobic remarks resigns

Wausau teacher accused of racist, homophobic remarks resigns


Rob Perkins, the Wausau East High School band director accused earlier this year of making racist and homophobic remarks, has resigned, according to a press release from the school district.

The resignation was first reported by the Wausau Daily Herald.

The press release from the district says that the school board accepted his resignation at its meeting Monday evening, and that the district would have no further comment.

In a written statement provided to Madison365 by his attorney, Twan Vongphakdy, the father of the student who brought a complaint against Perkins in April, said the resignation is an important step but the district still has work to do.

“Rob Perkins’ resignation is an important step towards making Wausau East High School a safer place,” he said “Since our family first addressed the school board about our child’s experiences, so many others have come forward to share their own stories of harm and trauma that Perkins’ bullying caused. We are relieved that future students will be spared these damaging experiences. However, the problems our family’s experiences have exposed are much bigger than one person. Multiple administrators failed to identify and bring an end to Perkin’s egregious conduct. Instead they made excuses and tried to brush his bullying under the rug, in a way that caused deep harm to our child. The district must take accountability for these failures and learn from them so that they never happen again to another child. This accountability is necessary before true healing can begin.”

The state Department of Public Instruction (DPI) confirmed Tuesday that its investigation into whether to suspend or revoke Perkins’ license is ongoing. Online records indicate that Perkins’ license remains under investigation.

Earlier this year, a senior in the Wausau East band, who is Asian American and gay, alleged that Perkins’ had used anti-Asian slurs to replicate sounds he wanted the percussion section to create, and that Perkins had told students to prepare for a concert by changing into their tuxedoes, but joked that the gay student might prefer a dress.

The student’s family formally complained to the administration, which placed Perkins on leave, only to reinstate him two weeks later. School superintendent Dr. Kieth Hitt wrote in his decision that Perkins did use racist and homophobic language, but did so in “fun,” and as such, the comments did not rise to the level of discrimination or harrassment.

Nearly 30 people appeared at the next school board meeting condemning Perkins’ conduct; two former students detailed additional allegations: one said that Perkins used a slapstick to make a whipping sound near a Black student and asked “Does that remind you of anything?” and another said Perkins repeatedly referred to her and her brother as “Mexican 1 and Mexican 2” and gave her brother the nickname “Pedro.”

Amid that community backlash, the district hired an outside attorney to conduct an independent investigation; earlier this month, that attorney declared the initial investigation flawed and invalid on a number of procedural grounds.

Meanwhile, the family’s attorney appealed to the state DPI, which responded by launching an investigation into the district’s response, as well as its own investigation into Perkins’ licensure.