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)

The teacher who was filmed twice saying a racial slur during a recent Glendale High School geometry class is no longer employed by the district. 

Stephen Hall, SPS spokesman, said the teacher submitted his resignation on Monday, and he will no longer return to the high school building.

“The teacher who was initially placed on administrative leave following the situation at Glendale High School is no longer employed by Springfield Public Schools,” Hall said in a statement Monday afternoon.

In social media posts and in the video, the teacher, Kenneth Bowling, is named. After the second time the teacher says the word in the video, a student can be heard saying, “Mr. Bowling, Mr. Bowling.” Bowling was listed on the Glendale website staff directory early Monday afternoon as a math teacher and cross-country head coach. Hall, the SPS spokesman, was asked Monday if anyone named Kenneth Bowling is currently employed with the district. He said there is not anyone by that name currently employed by the district. Attempts by the Springfield Daily Citizen to reach Bowling have not been successful. 

Bowling, who has not been named in any statements provided by Springfield Public Schools, was initially placed on administrative leave on May 9 after a student recorded the teacher twice using the N-word while discussing who can and cannot use the term. 

“(Springfield Public Schools) took immediate action once we were aware of this situation,” Joshua Groves, Glendale principal, said in a statement last week to family and staff. “An investigation is ongoing, and while it continues, the staff member will remain on administrative leave. Appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.”

The recording captures a minute of debate between the teacher and students about who can and should not use the word. The teacher 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?” The recording shows him saying it once more after a student begins to suggest the teacher’s job is in jeopardy.

The student who filmed it, Mary Walton, 15, was suspended for three days for violating the district’s policy on cell phone use in the classroom, according to the family’s attorney. 

In a statement Monday afternoon, Hall, the SPS spokesman, said: “Much speculation has occurred regarding student discipline related to a video recording of the unacceptable classroom incident. Student discipline is confidential, per federal law, and Springfield Public Schools cannot disclose specifics related to actions taken. 

“The student handbook is clear, however, on consequences for inappropriate use of electronic devices. Any consequences applied per the scope and sequence would also consider if minors are identifiable in the recording and what, if any, hardships are endured by other students due to a violation of privacy with the dissemination of the video in question. SPS is confident that the district appropriately and promptly handled all matters related to what occurred at Glendale. We want our schools to be safe and welcoming learning environments. When students have concerns, they should follow the appropriate steps for reporting.”

Asked for a reaction to the news of the teacher’s resignation, Natalie Hull, the attorney who is representing the student who filmed the video, said the family is focused on the decision to punish Walton. She said Monday afternoon that she had earlier had a conversation with the school district’s legal counsel, but declined to disclose the nature of the conversation. She said Walton’s punishment had not been reduced. 

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