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Lee's Summit Coach Will Not Be Fired After Controversial Use Of A Racial Slur

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Carlos Moreno
The Lee's Summit Board of Education decided early this week not to terminate Joe Oswald, a teacher at Pleasant Lea Middle School in Lee's Summit.

Joe Oswald repeated the N-word while disciplining a student. The school board decided not to fire him for it.

Lee’s Summit middle school teacher Joe Oswald will not be fired for his use of a racial slur while disciplining a student in May. The School Board announced Friday they could not conclude his use of the word displayed “racial animus” and therefore cannot terminate him.

Instead, he faces suspension or reassignment.

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Lee's Summit School District
Joe Oswald, a teacher at Pleasant Lea Middle School, is a 27-year veteran of the Lee's Summit school district. He faced termination after repeating a racial slur to students.

Oswald is a coach at Pleasant Lea Middle School and a 27-year veteran with the school district. News of his possible termination caused outrage in the community — more than 2000 people signed a petition attesting to his character.

On Tuesday, while the School Board deliberated in a closed session whether termination was necessary, protestors gathered with signs outside the building asking the school board not to fire Oswald.

Oswald said the N-word on May 6, 2021, while disciplining a 13-year old Black student for using the word in school. Oswald repeated what she had said, including the racial slur. The student told administrators she was shocked a white man would say the word, so she asked him to repeat it, which he did. Another Black student in the room also reported the incident.

Lee’s Summit superintendent David Buck called for the Board to fire Oswald after an investigation. Because Oswald is tenured, the decision ultimately rested with the board.

“It’s wrong to say such things in front of students. It’s always been wrong,” Buck said at a special hearing in June. “It was wrong when I was a kid in the ’70s and ’80s.”

Katy Bergen, the executive director of public relations at the district, said they had no additional comments.

The board suggested that Oswald may be reassigned to another school to limit his interaction with the two students.

Jamie Jiang is a news intern for KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter @jambojiang
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