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Missouri Family Outraged After Student Is Suspended For Filming Teacher Using N-Word

The Glendale High School geometry teacher resigned after initially being placed on administrative leave, but 15-year-old Mary Walton's family wants answers about why she was also punished.

screenshots from Mary Walton's classroom video

In Missouri a 15-year-old student was suspended for filming a teacher after he repeatedly used a racial slur during class.

Mary Walton—a student at Glendale High School in Springfield, Missouri—was informed Friday she would be suspended for three days for filming after her geometry teacher used the n-word multiple times.

Her family is asking for an apology and for the school administration to reverse their decision.

Family attorney Natalie Hull’s office said in a statement:

“She’s still processing everything, and she doesn’t understand what she did wrong,”

The unidentified teacher was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation and ruling by the school district following the incident, but he resigned before the administration could take action.

In the video, the as yet unidentified geometry teacher decided to initiate a discussion with his students about the use of racial slurs—while saying the slur 4-5 times.

The math teacher asked:

“Is this word, [n-word] not allowed?”

After being asked not to use the word, he continued, making the situation worse.

“I’m not calling anyone a [n-word]. I can say the word.”

It is unclear what the discussion had to do with mathematics.

You can see news coverage here:

Walton said she filmed the incident only after the teacher used the slur several times in order to show her mother and ask how to handle the distressing situation.

The video ended up circulating amongst parents and then on social media. The school received multiple complaints from the community as a result.

In a letter to parents and the news media prior to the teacher's resignation, the principal stated the situation was being handled.

“We are aware of a Glendale teacher using offensive, derogatory language during class today. A video of the comments is being circulated and we have received several calls from concerned parents."
"I want you to know that the comments expressed in the video are inappropriate, inexcusable and do not meet the professional standards for Springfield Public Schools employees.”

The school district also commented and shared they were:

“...confident that the district appropriately and promptly handled all matters related to what occurred at Glendale.”

While the 15-year-old student that exposed the teacher's misconduct wasn't directly mentioned, the district referred to their policy to keep all incidents of faculty and staff misconduct in-house for resolution.

They stated:

“We want our schools to be safe and welcoming learning environments. When students have concerns, they should follow the appropriate steps for reporting.”

In response to inquiries about Walton's suspension, the school district stated:

“Student discipline is confidential, per federal law, and Springfield Public Schools cannot disclose specifics related to actions taken. The student handbook is clear, however, on consequences for inappropriate use of electronic devices."
"Any consequences applied per the scope and sequence would also consider if minors are identifiable in the recording and what, if any, hardships are endured by other students due to a violation of privacy with the dissemination of the video in question.”

But Walton's attorney criticized the policy as focused on protecting the district and their adult employees, not underage students like Mary.

In an age where video evidence produces results, individuals used to being disregarded when they file a complaint through the "appropriate steps" are likely to reach for their electronic device to get proof. The school district labeling the means of obtaining proof of misconduct an "inappropriate use of electronic devices" is troubling.

Hull stated:

"The school policy of disciplining students to teach them to behave in the appropriate manner is not in line with their own actions."
“Mary saw a teacher do something wrong and she documented it. Language can be harmful, and Mary captured proof of her teacher, a person who is supposed to protect children, harming them through his use of a racial slur.”
“If he had been hitting a student—or worse—would the school have reacted the same?
"Frankly, this school is exercising a chilling effect on all of the students by sending the message that they will get in trouble if they capture evidence of their teachers doing something wrong."

Social media was outraged by what happened to Walton.

A Springfield Public Schools email and spokesperson shared Tuesday:

"The teacher who was initially placed on administrative leave following the situation at Glendale High School is no longer employed by Springfield Public Schools."
"We received a resignation from that teacher."