A US high school is facing criticism after it suspended a student for recording her teacher using a racial slur in class.

Mary Walton, 15, filmed her teacher saying the n-word repeatedly on 9 May at Glendale High School in Springfield, Missouri.

Her family has since retained a lawyer and asked the school to apologize.

School officials said they believe the student was disciplined appropriately. The teacher who used the slur has quit.

As well as an apology, the young student and her mother, Kate Welborn, have asked the school to strike the suspension of her academic record, her lawyer Natalie Hull told the BBC.

The attorney argued that the suspension sends the wrong message to students.

“If you take a video of a teacher doing something wrong, then you yourself could also get in trouble,” Ms Hull said.

The lawyer said that at the time of the incident, students had been discussing the racial slur.

The unnamed teacher interjected, Ms. Hull said, and used the word multiple times.

Ms Walton’s video captured him saying the slur, as students asked him to stop.

“I’m not calling anyone a [slur],” the teacher can be heard saying. “I can say the word.”


Ms. Hull said the student shared the video with her mother and friend, after which it was posted widely on social media without her knowledge.

The school suspended Ms. Walton on 12 May for three days – the maximum amount for her infraction under the school’s guidelines, Ms. Hull said.

In a statement shared with the BBC, the school’s principal, Josh Groves, denounced the teacher’s actions and said he was no longer employed at Glendale High.

Mr. Groves added that the school was confident it had acted appropriately in response to the incident.

“Student discipline is confidential, per federal law, and Springfield Public Schools cannot disclose specifics related to actions taken,” he said. “The student handbook is clear, however, on consequences for inappropriate use of electronic devices.”

Ms. Walton’s mother told the BBC she would like the school to amend its policy and educate staff and students on how to respond should a similar incident involving a teacher happen again.

“The policy was either misapplied or it revealed that there is a problem with the policy and that there is no whistleblower provision,” she said.

Ms. Walton’s actions have been defended by the head of the Radio Television News Association, who wrote in a letter to school officials that he had “serious concerns” about her suspension.

“She should be congratulated, not punished,” Dan Shelley wrote in the letter, according to the Washington Post, adding that while the student was not a journalist, she had captured a “clearly newsworthy event” as reporters do.

Ms. Walton is having a hard time after the incident, according to her mother.

“She would just like things to go back to normal so she can finish off the school year,” Ms Welborn said.



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