Madison Metropolitan School District announced Marlon Anderson’s reinstatement Monday after the black security guard was fired for using the n-word while correcting a student that directed the slur at him.
Anderson was fired Oct. 16 under a “zero tolerance” policy of racial slurs being used by staff.
The repercussions of his termination were widespread — and West High School students rallied behind Anderson. More than 1,000 people walked out of the school last Friday in protest of his controversial firing, led in part by Anderson’s 18-year-old son Noah.
“I didn't expect support from all over the world. I didn't expect these young people to step up and go on a rally and go down to the Doyle building and say they want me back,” Anderson said. “I didn't think I was this special."
MMSD officials announced Anderson’s reinstatement in a news release Monday. Anderson will remain on paid leave and receive full benefits while his return is negotiated with the school board.
“Thank you to the 1,000 plus students for allowing your voices to be heard and to all the people from across the globe for reaching out to my family,” Anderson wrote in a Facebook post. “You are amazing people!”
Anderson’s reinstatement comes after the Madison Board of Education President Gloria Reyes asked for his termination to be rescinded. Additionally, Madison Teachers Inc. — the city’s teacher’s union — filed a grievance on Anderson’s behalf.
Anderson’s appeal was supposed to be heard next month by an impartial hearing officer.
Following his termination at West High School, Anderson was temporarily hired by the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, where he’ll likely stay while his transition plan is put in place, according to Channel 3000.
“Going forward, we will review our practice. We remain dedicated to protecting our students and staff from harm by implementing practices that are reflective of the humanity involved,” Reyes said. “We will grapple with complexity and assess it through a lens of deep racial equity.”
Anderson’s story even gained national attention — in a tweet, Cher offered to pay Anderson’s legal fees if he decided to sue the district, and over 12,000 people signed a petition asking for his reinstatement.
“I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running,” Anderson said. "I’m so happy for the kids because they got out and fought for this — and they won. I’m excited to walk back into the school because that’s going to let them know their voices are powerful.”
Anderson said he hopes his story will serve as a lesson for MMSD and cause them to reevaluate their zero-tolerance policy and create a new one. He also encourages staff not to be afraid to use similar moments as teaching opportunities for students.
"Hopefully this is one of those things that happened that will be a platform for change because I'm just one voice, but there are thousands of voices that have not been heard," Anderson said.