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‘I Wanted Proof’: Missouri Student Suspended for Violating School Policy After Recording Teacher Saying the N-Word In 6 Times In Class

A 15-year-old student was suspended in Springfield, Missouri, after she recorded her teacher using a racial slur in class.

The Springfield News-Leader reports Mary Walton was suspended after making the recording on May 12 at Glendale High School.

Walton used her smartphone to record her teacher repeatedly using the racial slur during a class discussion at around 11 a.m. The teacher is heard saying he did not like the N-word before saying, “I don’t know. It feels like when a Black person is using it towards another Black person, it’s the same. How is it not still a derogatory word?”

Glendale High School
A teacher is recorded using the N-word repeatedly during a class discussion at Glendale High School in Springfield, Missouri, on May 12, 2023. (Photo: KY3 News / YouTube)

After a Black student warned him not to actually use the word again if he wanted to keep his job, the teacher responded by using the word twice more. “But I am not calling anyone a N-word,” said the teacher. “I can say the word.”

Related: ‘They Turned Their Backs’: New York High School Basketball Players Say They Were Spit on, Called the N-Word By Opposing Teams; District Plans to Sue on Their Behalf

The exchange was recorded by Walton, who is a sophomore at the high school. She was later suspended for three days by the school for violating school policy for using an electronic device in class.

“I wanted proof that he said it so I could give it to the office and hold him accountable for what he said,” Walton recalled. “I don’t think what he did was right.”

Walton also said that the unidentified teacher used the word at least six times, two of which were recorded. One student is seen gasping on the video after hearing the teacher say the word and asking, “Why are you saying it?”

Once the teacher saw Walton recording the discussion, he told her to put her phone away but she refused. He then told her to go to the principal’s office, prompting Walton to text the video to her mother. Walton added that she thinks the teacher knew he’d be in trouble once he saw he was being recorded.

“I first sent it to my mom because he threatened to send me to the office. Personally, I didn’t feel like I did anything wrong and I feel like he only threatened to send me there because he knew he was in trouble.”

The teacher was immediately placed on paid administrative leave, and Walton was informed that she’d been suspended for three days before she even left school on the same day she took the video.

Despite her never posting the video on social media and only sharing it with her mother and two friends, news of the video spread quickly, and the sophomore was suspended for violating the school’s policy on electronic devices.

The Springfield Public Schools Student Handbook states that electronic devices “may be in the student’s possession as long as they are not disruptive to the educational process or in violation of site use procedures.”

“I was just confused because I don’t know what I did wrong,” said Walton. “I feel like if I didn’t take the video, he probably would not have been held accountable

like he is right now. So I don’t know why I am being punished.”

Walton’s mother, Kate Welborn, says she told the school they made a mistake punishing her daughter for exposing the teacher. The teen was given the maximum sentence for violating the school’s electronics policy, despite the handbook recommending detention or a conference for first-time violations.

“I am not happy. What I told them — I was trying to be very diplomatic — was that I am very disappointed with their decision to punish her for this,” said Welborn. “I said ‘I think you need to reconsider the message you are sending to someone.’ I feel strongly that she did the right thing and here she is being punished. What you are tacitly doing is discouraging students from reporting whenever a teacher does something outrageous.”

Welborn hired attorney Natalie T. Hull over the weekend to represent her daughter, and Hull immediately wrote to the school demanding that Walton be allowed to return to school on May 15. The teacher in question resigned on Monday, and the school released a statement doubling down on Walton’s punishment.

“The teacher who was initially placed on administrative leave following the situation at Glendale High School is no longer employed by Springfield Public Schools. Furthermore, much speculation has occurred regarding student discipline related to a video recording of the unacceptable classroom incident,” wrote Stephen Hall of Springfield Public Schools.

“Student discipline is confidential, per federal law, and Springfield Public Schools cannot disclose specifics related to actions taken,” Hall continued. “The student handbook is clear, however, on consequences for inappropriate use of electronic devices… SPS is confident that the district appropriately and promptly handled all matters related to what occurred at Glendale. We want our schools to be safe and welcoming learning environments. When students have concerns, they should follow the appropriate steps for reporting.”

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