The Madison West High School security assistant fired for his use of a racial slur has filed a grievance appealing the decision.
Marlon Anderson, whose termination for using a racial slur was announced Wednesday afternoon, wrote on Facebook that he used the n-word only in response to a student’s use of it toward the staffer, and only in telling the student not to use the word.
"We're fighting this," Anderson, who is black, said in a brief interview.
Madison Teachers Inc. executive director Doug Keillor confirmed that on Thursday, MTI filed a grievance with the district on behalf of Anderson, seeking reinstatement and back pay.
Anderson is part of MTI's Educational Support Employees Association, the bargaining unit for security assistants and other positions like clerical employees, nurse assistants and special education assistants.
The grievance policy is outlined in the employee handbook. It allows for various timelines and levels of appeal. If the grievant and the district agree, they can bypass the lower levels of appeal — a direct supervisor and then the executive director of human resources — in the case of a termination.
The first level of appeal is to an employee’s direct supervisor, who has 10 days to respond to a grievance. If the staff member is unsatisfied with the result, they can submit the grievance to the executive director of human resources within 10 days of receiving the answer. That person then has 10 days to provide another answer.
Keillor said MTI proposed bypassing those first two steps and immediately bringing the case to an “impartial hearing officer,” or IHO, which is the third step outlined in the handbook. That person must be agreed upon by the district and MTI, which Keillor said can take time, and then set a date for a hearing.
“While this is a process for an employee to seek justice, it is a lengthy process,” Keillor said.
The IHO has the power to convene a hearing, administer oaths, issue subpoenas and decide if a transcript is necessary, according to the handbook.
“The IHO may require the parties to submit grievance documents and witness lists in advance of the hearing to expedite the hearing,” the handbook states. “The IHO shall decide disputed facts based on ‘a preponderance of the evidence’ standard.”
If either the district or the employee is dissatisfied with the decision, they can appeal one more time to the School Board. The board would have 30 days to review the decision, and must use the evidence and record presented at the IHO hearing in its consideration. It would have 20 days following the final review session to vote to affirm, reverse or modify the IHO decision.
The board’s decision is binding.
Board president Gloria Reyes said in a statement via MMSD spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson that the board would "allow for that (grievance) process to play out so we can ensure the outcome is right for all involved." Reyes has requested a review of the approach to racial slurs be placed on a board agenda as soon as possible.
"We've taken a tough stance on racial slurs, and we believe that language has no place in schools," Reyes said. "We have also heard from the community about the complexity involved - and our duty to examine it. As a board, we plan to review our approach, the underlying policies, and examine them with a racial equity lens understanding that universal policies can often deepen inequities. We will ask the community for help in that process."