MMSD investigating use of inappropriate racial language by staffer

MADISON (WKOW) — Madison school officials are investigating an incident with a staff member that involved the use of inappropriate racial language.

In an email sent to Velma Hamilton Middle School families, Principal Jessica Taylor said that the incident is deeply concerning and unacceptable.

“As soon as we were informed, we immediately followed our protocol to investigate and take follow-up action,” she wrote.

Madison Metropolitan School District spokesperson Rachel Strauch-Nelson said that district officials were informed of the incident last week and immediately began an investigation.

The teacher was told not to report to school while that investigation took place.

“The school and the district is very concerned about the situation and has acted quickly to determine next steps,” Rachel Strauch-Nelson said in a statement.

The full letter to families:

Dear Velma Hamilton Middle School Community,

We are reaching out to you regarding an issue that took place last week in a classroom here at Hamilton.  It involved the use of inappropriate racial language by a staff member, which has been reported in the media today.

First and foremost, I know we all agree that a situation like this at our school is deeply concerning and unacceptable. As soon as we were informed, we immediately followed our protocol to investigate and take follow-up action. Per our district personnel policy, we cannot share details of the specific personnel issue, but know that we acted quickly to determine next steps.

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 to ensure that Velma Hamilton Middle School is a place where every student is fully seen, valued and can thrive.  In the short term, we will be working closely with our students and staff who were directly involved by leveraging our emerging culturally responsive and restorative practices. We will continue to work with our Central Office personnel and our school community to create both a short and long-term plan for our students, families and staff.

We want to thank you for your support and welcome you into partnership with these efforts, as we work to build a culture of trust and action.  As school leaders, we are committed to upholding both MMSD’s core values and our namesake Velma Hamilton’s legacy of Excellence, Belonging, Racial Equity and Social Justice, Voice, Focus, and Creativity.   

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.

Sincerely,

Jessica Taylor, PrincipalNichole Von Haden, Assistant Principal

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