City News

Community rallies around West High School security guard after termination over use of racial slur

Marlon Anderson was fired Wednesday after he used the N-word to explicitly tell a student to stop calling him the slur, according to Anderson.

Marlon Anderson was fired Wednesday after he used the N-word to explicitly tell a student to stop calling him the slur, according to Anderson.

A black West High School security guard, Marlon Anderson, was fired Wednesday for using a racial slur. Anderson appealed his termination Thursday.

Madison Metropolitan School District has a zero-tolerance policy for use of racial slurs — but Anderson, and the many community members that have gathered around him, said the context of his situation wasn’t taken into account.

Anderson said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that he was fired after he used the N-word to explicitly tell a student to stop calling him the slur. In the same post, he expressed his disappointment in MMSD, saying he “unfortunately expected better.”

"I need the district to answer the question of how can a black man lose his job for telling a student to not call him the N-word," Anderson told the Wisconsin State Journal.

Many community members, especially those of color, have garnered support for Anderson, even creating a petition to get him reinstated. It already has over 3,000 signatures.

Additionally, the city area teachers union, Madison Teachers Inc., confirmed that the union is filing a grievance on behalf of Anderson.

Following the inciting incident on Oct. 9, West High School Principal Karen Boran sent out an email to families Wednesday explaining their decision to terminate Anderson.

"Regardless of context or circumstance, racial slurs are not acceptable in our schools," Boran said in the email.

Anderson stated he was aware of the policy. However, he didn't understand that zero tolerance meant no background information or context would be attached to the word.

Last year, as a result of the zero-tolerance policy, several employees were fired or resigned after they were accused of using slurs.

As the grievance process progresses, a hearing date will be set in a few weeks, according to Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director Doug Keillor.

This story will be updated as information is released. 

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