HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — A Harrisonville teacher accused of using the N-word in class fought to save his job Tuesday night.
John Magoffin requested a public hearing after the school district and superintendent requested the school board terminate his contract. On Tuesday night, he made his case in the performing arts center in front of a crowd of more than 100 people.
“I believe it’s our job to protect students at all times. We cannot allow our students to be exposed to that kind of harm,” Superintendent Paul Mensching said.
When first questioned about the incident in April, Magoffin told administrators he didn’t recall using the full six-letter N-word and said it came up during an advanced placement biology class in a discussion about rap music.
Magoffin is color blind and has previously been featured for getting special glasses to help him see the world the way the rest of us see it. But in Tuesday’s hearing, district officials made it clear when it comes to color of skin, they’ve found he has strong opinions.
A district attorney told the Harrisonville school board that students recalled him saying he’d never support Black Lives Matter and racism doesn’t exist in America.
“This student was interviewed and said during physics class Mr. Magoffin had referred to MLK Day as Black privilege day,” said Duane Martin, an EdCounsel attorney for the school district.
“He used the phrase N-word, N-word that,” one student testified during the hearing.
“It was more of Black people can say the word and white people can’t say the word, and it’s a double standard,” another student explained.
The district said in its investigation that three students confirmed he used the full N-word, a word Magoffin’s attorney said Harrisonville Schools condones in its curriculum by having students read To Kill a Mockingbird.
“This six-letter word is used in the curriculum. How is that any different?” Jean Lamfers, the teacher’s attorney, asked Principal Mark Wiegers.
“To Kill a Mockingbird is taught in an English classroom. Talking about rap culture is not a part of AP Bio curriculum,” he responded.
Another student told the principal Magoffin joked she couldn’t join classmates on a mask-break walk because she was Black, made inappropriate comments about Black hair, and said minorities shouldn’t be given scholarships just because they are minorities.
“Does it ever occur to you that you are interviewing 16-, 17-, 18-year-old students and maybe some of these students might be exaggerating the truth?” Lamfers asked.
“I’m very aware of who I am interviewing, and I am very aware of the character of the students that I’m talking to,” Wiegers replied.
The school board announced it would go into closed session at the end of the hours-long hearing to discuss whether Magoffin should be terminated. As of 10 p.m. they had not announced a decision.