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Lee's Summit teacher accused of using racial slur receives community support

Board of Education to decide Joe Oswald's fate
Lee's Summit Rally For Joe Oswald Ahead of Board meeting
Posted at 8:40 PM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 23:57:38-04

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. — As a Lee's Summit middle school teacher waited to learn his fate after being accused of using a racial slur in front of students, supporters rallied outside of the Stansberry Leadership Center.

"I don't think he did it out of malice or because he, you know, was racist or anything like that," Duwana Frazier, one of Joe Oswald's supporters, said Tuesday. "But I just thought he was clarifying what the girl said to make sure she got just punishment."

Frazier was one of more than 100 people gathered Tuesday to greet Board of Education members as they arrived for a closed-session meeting to discuss last month's hearing regarding Oswald and to vote on his employment in the district. This crowd was larger than that at the special meeting when Oswald, who teaches at Pleasant Lea Middle School, testified as to why he used the word.

During that meeting, he told the board he repeated the N-word twice when reviewing an incident report that involved a student who had used the slur.

"The way we were taught to do it is to make sure you verify what you're charging somebody with," Tom Hill, a supporter and former substitute teacher, said. "You would want to repeat it, wouldn't you?"

But during the same meeting, administrators admonished any use of the slur, with the superintendent looking for the board to fire Oswald.

Many of his supporters don't believe Oswald, who has been with the district for 27 years, should be punished.

"I think there should be an apology, especially because I feel personally like a decision was made before there was communication from him," Jeanette Parsons, another supporter, said.

Once the board reaches a decision Tuesday night, the district has up to three days to announce it.

A spokesperson for the district told 41 Action News the decision will not be released immediately, so as to give legal teams enough time to communicate.

An online petition in support of Oswald had garnered nearly 2,000 signatures as of Tuesday night.