With Lee’s Summit coach’s fate in board’s hands for racial slur allegation, supporters rally

Education

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — Dozens of outspoken supporters rallied outside the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District on Tuesday evening. They say a coach shouldn’t be fired after using the n-word when he repeated what a student said for disciplinary purposes.

School board members already decided if they will fire football coach Joe Oswald or not, but the answer may not be known for a few more days.

“Do the right thing,” former Lee’s Summit coach and teacher Mike Spiegel said.

The meeting was closed to the public, but people came out to show they district they don’t want Oswald to go and what happened is all about context.

“What is going on here is wrong on every level. Joe did exactly what they asked him to do,” resident Wendy Ferguson said.

“He’s always been a great leader, teacher, and I believe in everything he’s done,” resident Angie Neill said.

Lee’s Summit R-7 Superintendent Dr. David Buck asked the board to fire Oswald for inappropriate conduct. Back in May, the district said the coach repeated the racial slur to a student to understand why they were being punished. Retired district teachers said this is what they were trained to do.

“I would follow board policy, and I taught in the district for 31 years, and for 31 years we were supposed to write it down, and then confer with the student to make sure that it’s correct, so I would have done the exact same thing that Joe did,” Spiegel said.

“We were trained to do that, and what saddens me is Joe was trying to take a situation that was inappropriate to make it better to teach them to do better,” Parsons said.

But Lee’s Summit parent Chris Jackson believes there’s no reason to use the word.

“It’s a big word,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if it’s a fire-able offense. It shouldn’t have been said. Right now we have racial tensions in the United States, America in general. It’s a really touchy subject,” Jackson said.

Protestors said if the board decided to fire the coach, it would be heartbreaking.

“It’s not the right thing to do. It’s absolutely not the right thing to do,” Spiegel said.

“His legacy’s going to be good, but the people that have done to him and passed judgement without knowing him, they’re building a different legacy, and they’re going to have to live with that,” Parsons said.

“Let’s learn from it. We have to learn from it,” Jackson said.

The district said it has three days to announce the decision. Before the decision is announced, they will speak with Oswald and lawyers first.

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