The Glendale High School sign with trees in the background.
Springfield's Glendale High School is at 2727 S Ingram Mill Rd. (Photo by Dean Curtis)

A Glendale High School teacher was placed on administrative leave Tuesday after a student with a cell phone camera recorded him saying the N-word twice during a class. 

The recording captures a minute of debate between the teacher and students about who can and should not use the word. The teacher, who was not named in a letter sent to Glendale families and staff, can be heard saying he does not like the word. He then asks how it is not still a derogatory term, “when a Black person is using it towards another Black person.” 

After a student notes slave owners’ use of the term, the teacher says he recognizes that, but then says, “Is the word (N-word) not allowed to be said?” 

Amid several audible gasps from students in the class, a student begins to tell the teacher not to say it, noting, “As a teacher, if you want to keep your job — this isn’t a threat …” 

The teacher responds: “But I’m not calling anyone a (N-word). I can say the word.”

As the incident played out, the student making the video pointed the camera up from their desk toward the teacher, who demanded the student, “Put your phone away.” 

The student responds, “No.” The teacher then tells the student, “Then go to the office.” 

The clip has been shared on numerous social media channels Tuesday. The teacher was placed on administrative leave that afternoon.

‘Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken,’ Glendale principal writes

Early Tuesday afternoon, Glendale High School Principal Josh Groves sent a letter to Glendale staff and families about the incident. 

“We are aware of a Glendale teacher using offensive, derogatory language during class today,” Groves wrote. “A video of the comments is being circulated and we have received several calls from concerned parents. I want you to know that the comments expressed in the video are inappropriate, inexcusable and do not meet the professional standards for Springfield Public Schools employees.

“(Springfield Public Schools) took immediate action once we were aware of this situation. An investigation is ongoing, and while it continues, the staff member will remain on administrative leave. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.

“While details of personnel matters must remain confidential, our response has followed the guidelines outlined by our Board policy and reflects the district’s zero-tolerance for this type of conduct.

“We strive to ensure that every individual is treated with respect, kindness and fairness, so that all feel safe, secure and welcomed at our school.”

Cory Matteson

Cory Matteson moved to Springfield in 2022 to join the team of Daily Citizen journalists and staff eager to launch a local news nonprofit. He returned to the Show-Me State nearly two decades after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to arriving in Springfield, he worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and Casper Star-Tribune. More by Cory Matteson