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Hamilton Middle School

Hamilton Middle School is shown in 2017. A teacher at the West Side school is being investigated by school officials for using "inappropriate racial language" last week. 

The Madison School District is investigating an incident in which a teacher used “inappropriate racial language” late last week, district officials said.

The Hamilton Middle School teacher has been put on leave while the incident is investigated, district spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson said Wednesday.

“As soon as we were informed, school staff began investigating,” she said. “The school and the district is very concerned about the situation and is acting quickly to determine next steps.”

Strauch-Nelson declined to provide any additional details, citing an “ongoing personnel issue.”

In a letter sent to parents after the incident was reported by Madison365 and The Capital Times, Hamilton Principal Jessica Taylor and Assistant Principal Nichole Von Haden said the teacher used “inappropriate racial language” in a classroom, but also didn’t provide any other details.

The officials said they will work with students, staff members and administrators to address the incident.

“I know we all agree that a situation like this at our school is deeply concerning and unacceptable,” Taylor and Von Haden said in their letter. “This situation also requires us to pause, reflect, and assess our work to build a strong culture and climate, and come together as a school community.”

Taylor didn’t return a message seeking comment.

The teacher has not been publicly named.

Douglas Keillor, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., the teachers union, said the teacher has “shared her perspective” with the district. He declined to comment further.

“The employer has heard both perspectives and is now investigating this matter,” Keillor said. “At this time we believe it is best to allow the District to work to resolve these concerns between the involved parties, rather than having this played out in the media.”

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Chris Aadland is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.