By Dennis Minich
After an 11-hour hearing June 15, there is still no clear date when the Harrisonville School Board will vote on the fate of John Magoffin, a high school teacher facing accusations of racially derogatory comments at the school. The board will decide whether his contract should be terminated.
Jill Filer, public information officer for the school district, provided the following timeline:
“Pursuant to Missouri law, the court reporter employed by the board for the hearing must provide a full transcript to the board and the teacher within ten days after the hearing. Once the transcript is provided, the board is permitted up to seven additional days to reach its decision. The board’s decision will be made during a closed meeting.
“This meeting will be posted at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting. The decision must be provided to the teacher within 3 days after it is reached.”
During the hearing, the administration, represented by Duane Martin of EDCOUNCIL, spent five hours outlining the case against Magoffin. He is charged with violating district policies concerning the use of improper language. He is accused of using the “N-word” during a class; calling the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday “black privilege day;” telling a student her class could not take a walking mask break “because she was black;” and saying girls should not wear leggings because they showed off their butts, “birthing hips” and that “you can see everything hanging out.”
Magoffin’s attorney, Jean Lamfers, said she thought she and her client had dispelled the allegations.
“The accuser in two of the charges didn’t even testify. One, we had witnesses to dispute the charge and the final one, about the use of the N-word, he denied using it. But let’s assume for a minute he did. The context was from a teaching standpoint about it being inappropriate to say. He was talking about it in an appropriate context,” Lamfers said.
“He said nothing inappropriate and I think we proved that.”
Magoffin has filed a complaint with the Cole County District Court saying the policy he is accused of violating was inappropriately approved and has no legal standing.
Lamfers noted Magoffin had always received excellent evaluations and had never been involved in controversy, but thinks he is being targeted for other reasons.
“We presented the text sent from (Superintendent) Paul Mensching to (Assistant Superintendent Jason) Eggars about Magoffin’s comments about Mormonism. And my client also spoke to a board member about students taking classes online getting graded differently than those in class and he was verbally reprimanded in front of other teachers about it,” she said.
Lamfers accused the board of violating Magoffin’s rights, including not providing her with information about the charges or evidence until June 10, giving her just four days to prepare for the hearing. She then added making everyone sit through an 11-hour hearing was “bizarre and outrageous.”
Filer said the administration will have no comment on the matter until it is decided. “We won’t have any comment until there is something to comment on,” she said.
It is anticipated the board will hold a special meeting June 30, but it has not been posted.