Principal fired after accidentally leaving racist remarks on job applicant’s voicemail

"Your actions were unacceptable and should not be tolerated," wrote Dr. Angie Hicks, associate superintendent of secondary schools. "Your behavior goes against the MMSD vision of creating an anti-racist school culture and curriculum."

In September, Sennett Middle School Principal Jeffrey Copeland was placed on leave after less than one month on the job. Last week, the details of his termination were released.

According to records released by the Madison School District in response to a Wisconsin State Journal public records request, Copeland was dismissed for remarks he accidentally left on a voicemail to a job candidate that went “against the (district) vision of creating an anti-racist school culture and curriculum.”

The voicemail was left for an applicant who had a degree from a school in the Dominican Republic, about which Copeland said they “could barely communicate with me,” and “they’re just giving people damn jobs.”

Copeland audio

Dr. Angie Hicks, associate superintendent of secondary schools, wrote in his termination letter that his remarks were uncalled for and don’t align with the district’s core values.

“On September 6, 2022, you had a conversation with a colleague during which you made inappropriate remarks about a candidate that were extremely harmful and do not reflect the values that the district believes its leaders should possess,” she wrote. “Your actions were unacceptable and should not be tolerated. Your behavior goes against the MMSD vision of creating an anti-racist school culture and curriculum.”

This was Copeland’s first year serving as principal of the middle school. In August, he released a statement on the school board’s Facebook page explaining his excitement.

“I am excited about the journey we will embark on together, the growth that will occur, and the relationships and community that will be built,” he wrote. He also wrote that he looked forward to the school becoming “a competitive academic powerhouse.”

According to a message to parents, the district has enacted a “leadership support plan,” for the rest of the school year. Two recent retirees are serving as co-interim principals until a replacement is found.


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Micah Ward
Micah Wardhttp://districtadministration.com
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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