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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.”

What people are saying

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

  1. labman57 says:

    This school district apparently has a “zero tolerance” policy regarding students recording their teachers.

    Zero tolerance policies are the result of administrators opting for an easy fix so that they no longer are required to use judgement and common sense and evaluate each situation on its merits. Similar absurd policies have previously resulted in students being suspended for bringing Midol or Tylenol (no drugs!) or plastic knives to cut up lunch meat (no weapons!) to school.

  2. John Keeber says:

    This is the same approach that was used by despots and emperors..
    Only they killed those who brought them bad news..
    Hitler did the same..

  3. Lars Opland says:

    How does anyone grow to adulthood in the USA without ever learning the social rule on who can use the “n-word” & who can’t? What segment of the white population here still does use it?

    Oh, yeah…now I remember. Racists. Only racists.

  4. Cynd says:

    While I get it that the policy is students are not to use their cell phones in school, what I DON’T get is why a BIOLOGY teacher was discussing racial labels. And for the record, Missouri is a ‘one-party’ state…the student who recorded the teacher was a participant to the discussion and, as such, she gave her own permission to record!

  5. JayQ says:

    The teacher rightfully rejects the inherent hippocracy and racism in the double standard of “the social rule” that so many sheep seem to somehow except; that one skin color cannot use or say a word that another skin color will find highly offensive, unless used by them in reference to them.

    How anyone could accept such a scenario is perpetually troubling.

    I applaud this teacher.

  6. Bruce S. says:

    Racist are gonna be racist, it’s their nature. This is exactly why they want to cover up ALL of their racist behavior, hence their crazy objections to so-called CRT. If I were grimy I’d probably do the same. Malcolm X was right back then, and it still holds true today.

  7. LizBee says:

    JayQ above has an interesting take. But one I completely disagree with. Using derogatory words like the N word are ways to ‘other’ people. When people are ‘othered’, they are no longer part of the whole- perhaps not even considered ‘as human’ as the rest. When black people use the N word, they are not ‘othering’. It’s not hypocritical (note correct spelling). Civilization grew and evolved due to rules and respect and trust. An interesting by-product of Trump has been the rise of being rude, impolite and untrusting. Decorum is the opposite of bullying. It’s childish to think that you can call someone anything you like- or use any word you like to describe them without consequences.

  8. Amy Seabrook says:

    I remember using a form of this offensive word thirty years ago in my 30s. It was an adverb form ending in “ly.” It meant “cheap.” My husband called me on it. It was a word leftover from the mid-nineteenth century. I stopped using it then and there, although I thought I had been clever and I thought the word was clever. Because of my own hurt at the hands of a dominating parent, I was reluctant to embrace the lesson and I had to let go of my supposed cleverness. I was hurt and I did not see the hurt I inflicted. Education I have come to honor as the remedy.

  9. Steve Douglas says:

    I’m a 65 year old white guy raised in the American South. This is a thing idiotic and infantile white folks do, among a panoply of related such things, to frankly skirt as close to, and cross, the line out of their continuing sense of superiority and entitlement. But, being cowards, they think they can cleverly avoid consequences by pretending they’re innocent lambs, and just trying to have an “academic” discussion of the word and its propriety. They’re lying. They’re doing it on purpose for all the usual, old racist reasons, because they think they can get away with it. They should be crushed. It is some species of racist infantile defiance syndrome. This guy should be in NO classrooms ever again. If he’s doing it at THIS age, in THIS context, he is a sadist and can’t be fixed.

  10. Steve Douglas says:

    JayQ, you shouldn’t be “applauding” this extremely unwise teacher. He asked for it, he dared to, and he has now gotten what he was asking for. There is an IRON truth apparent to thinking people about why historically racist abusers should not use that term, and why – among many if not all Black folks, it is quite okay. I do know that for other Black folks, it is not, and I quite sympathize with them. But as with so many things, the more Black folks use it, the more they defuse it. It takes the sting away. It reduces that terribly and powerfully hateful word to just another weak and pretty stupid word in the lexicon. Humans use the same strategy of purposeful overuse/expose to defuse, and weaken, and de-stigmatize (on the receiving end) a much disliked thing, be it food, climate, whatever. It’s kind of like a vaccination. But no, when used by historic haters, the same rationale does not apply.

  11. Beth Winfrey says:

    Sad that they punished the girl for doing the right thing. The punishment does not fit the crime it’s almost like the principal was pissed at the girl for bringing it to his attention. So that’s why he suspended her. I would suspect that he knew about this teacher but no proof meant he didn’t have to deal with it. So now he had no choice and so he took it out on her.

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