Missouri teacher who used racial slur resigns; student who taped him suspended

May 16, 2023, 3:08 PM | Updated: May 18, 2023, 8:48 am

A Missouri high school teacher who was videotaped repeatedly using a racial slur in class has resigned from the district, while the student who took the video finishes serving a school suspension.

Mary Walton, a 15-year-old sophomore at Glendale High School in Springfield, will be allowed to return to school Wednesday after a three-day suspension for what the school district said was improper use of an electronic device.

Walton’s suspension caused controversy, with supporters including the Radio Television Digital News Association saying she was exercising her free speech rights and documenting a disturbing incident that might have otherwise been ignored.

Kate Welborn, Walton’s mother, said in an interview Tuesday that she was “genuinely shocked” her daughter received the harshest possible punishment for recording the teacher during class last week. She said her daughter’s video clearly showed the situation and context for what happened.

“To punish someone in this situation who does the right thing, it’s absurd,” Welborn said.

Walton told her mother and others that she started videotaping the teacher after he said the slur several times, and her video captures him saying it twice. The teacher stopped when he saw she was recording.

Walton sent the video to her mother, a friend and a student in the video to ask for advice on what to do. She did not post it to social media, and it’s unclear how it quickly spread, said Natalie Hull, the family’s attorney.

The teacher, who had worked for the district since 2008, was initially placed on administrative leave and told to leave the building. His name has not been released.

Glendale principal Josh Groves said in a message to school employees and families last week that the comments expressed in the video were inappropriate and did not meet the Springfield district’s professional standards.

Walton was preparing to head to school Friday when she and her mother were notified she had been suspended, although Welborn had to go to the school to find out the reason for the suspension.

Hull asked the district during the weekend to allow Walton to return to school on Monday, but officials declined. Walton did not record the teacher to get attention and doesn’t understand what she did wrong or why she was punished so harshly, Hull said.

Stephen Hall, a spokesperson for the school district, said in a statement that the district could not discuss specifics about its actions for the “unacceptable classroom incident.”

He said the student handbook is clear about consequences for inappropriate use of electronic devices, which would consider if other minors were identifiable and suffered because of a “violation of privacy.”

“SPS is confident that the district appropriately and promptly handled all matters related to what occurred at Glendale,” Hall said. “We want our schools to be safe and welcoming learning environments. When students have concerns, they should follow the appropriate steps for reporting.”

The policy on use of electronic devices includes a line that says, “The prohibited conduct includes such things as audio or visual recording of faculty or staff in the classroom; acts of violence; disruptions to the school environment; or other acts prohibited by the District’s Disciplinary Guidelines.”

Hull said the district needs to reexamine the policy because it does not allow students to capture evidence of any wrongdoing, including possible crimes or misconduct. She also said it was unreasonable to expect young students to know the “proper channels” for reporting such events.

“Frankly, many of them don’t know if they’ll be believed,” Hull said. “It makes sense that they would feel the need to capture hard evidence and indisputable evidence.”

In a letter to Springfield Superintendent Grenita Lathan, Dan Shelley, president and CEO of the Radio Television Digital News Association, urged her to reconsider Walton’s punishment.

He said several court decisions have upheld citizens’ rights to record activity in public places and that the district’s policy on use of electronic devices “flies in the face” of those rights.

“The student says she was recording the teacher’s alleged racist remarks for the express purpose of making a record of the incident should the events in the classroom at that moment come into dispute,” Shelley wrote. “In our opinion, that makes her a lawful whistleblower, not a delinquent. She should be congratulated, not punished.”

Hull said Walton’s supporters are hoping the district will apologize to Walton, expunge the suspension from her record and take the opportunity to show students it is all right to acknowledge making a mistake.

Welborn said the district has not apologized and has said it will not remove the suspension from her daughter’s record.


This story was first published on May 16, 2023. It was updated on May 18, 2023 to correct the last name of the student’s mother. She is Kate Welborn, not Kate Wellborn.

United States News

Associated Press

Motorist dies in fiery crash when vehicle plows into suburban Chicago highway toll plaza, police say

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) — A vehicle plowed into a suburban Chicago highway toll plaza early Thursday, engulfing it and the plaza in flames and killing the motorist, police said. Illinois State Police said troopers responded to the scene after receiving a report that a vehicle had struck the Barrington Road Toll Plaza along westbound […]

45 minutes ago

Associated Press

Fire in truck carrying lithium ion batteries leads to 3-hour evacuation in Columbus, Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Authorities evacuated an area of Ohio’s capital, Columbus, for several hours on Thursday out of fear that a fire in truck’s trailer could have caused lithium ion batteries to explode. Police began evacuating a several-block area west of downtown shortly after 7 a.m. and closed off several highway exits near the […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Man granted parole for his role in the 2001 stabbing deaths of 2 Dartmouth College professors

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A man who has served more than half of his life in prison for his role in the 2001 stabbing deaths of two married Dartmouth College professors as part of a plan to rob and kill people before fleeing overseas was granted parole Thursday. James Parker was 16 when he was […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Law enforcement officials in 4 states report temporary 911 outages

Law enforcement agencies in Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota and Texas reported temporary outages to 911 services before saying hours later that services had been restored. It was not immediately clear what caused the outages or whether they were related. Also unclear was whether any emergency situations were impacted. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

The Latest | A second seated juror is dismissed from Trump’s hush money trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Jury selection in Donald Trump ’s hush money case encountered new setbacks Thursday as a previously seated juror was excused after backtracking on whether she felt she could be impartial and fair. The status of a second sworn-in juror was also in limbo over concerns that some of his previous answers […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Sweeping gun legislation approved by Maine lawmakers following Lewiston mass shooting

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine Legislature approved sweeping gun safety legislation including background checks on private gun sales, waiting periods for gun purchases and criminalizing gun sales to prohibited people before adjourning Thursday morning, nearly six months after the deadliest shooting in state history. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and the Democratic-led Legislature pressed for […]

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Missouri teacher who used racial slur resigns; student who taped him suspended