Wausau's Asian community demands teacher be fired for racist & homophobic comments toward student
In April, Wausau East High School’s band instructor, Robert Perkins, was accused of using racial slurs and making homophobic comments toward a Hmong student.
The student’s parents filed a complaint against Perkins and he was put on leave.
Following the district's investigation, the instructor was reinstated. Wausau School District Superintendent Dr. Keith Hilts determined in a letter that the evidence showed: "Mr. Perkins did not engage in harassing or discriminatory behavior; he did engage in insensitive and unprofessional behavior."
The letter goes on to say that witnesses support that Perkins used language that could be insensitive to students of protected classes including race and sex, but “that language does not rise to the level of discrimination or harassment.”
Earlier this week, people made public comments at the Wausau School Board meeting regarding the situation. There is also a petition calling for a retraction of the superintendent’s determination and calling for Perkins' termination.
Mary Thao is one of several community leaders who’s signed the petition. She joins WUWM’s race and ethnicity reporter Teran Powell to discuss the situation, and she shared her own experiences as an Asian woman living in Wausau.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has opened an educator misconduct investigation regarding this incident.