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Teacher who called US military ‘lowest of low’ is fired

A history teacher who was videotaped telling his students that only dumb people join the U.S. military has been fired by the suburban Southern California school district where he has taught for more than 15 years.

El Rancho Unified School District President Aurora R. Villon announced Gregory Salcido’s dismissal at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

In January Salcido upbraided a 17-year-old student for wearing a Marines sweatshirt to his class at El Rancho High School, telling him members of the U.S. military are “the lowest of our low.”

“We’ve got a bunch of dumb (expletive) over there,” he said during a soft-spoken, occasionally profane lecture that lasted several minutes while his students sometimes giggled. “Think about the people who you know who are over there, your stupid, frickin’ Uncle Louie or whoever.”

Villon said the small school district in the overwhelmingly Hispanic suburb of Pico Rivera has been “swamped with controversy” since a video of the remarks went viral after a family friend of the student posted it on Facebook.

“The superintendent has recommended disciplinary action, including termination of the employment,” she said.

Villon said Salcido would remain on unpaid administrative leave pending any appeal he might make to state officials.

It wasn’t immediately clear if tenure might be grounds for an appeal. Superintendent Karling Aguilera-Fort did not respond Wednesday to phone and email messages.

Salcido, who graduated from El Rancho High, received his teaching credential in 1999 and went to work at his alma mater soon after.

He is also a longtime member of the Pico Rivera City Council and served as mayor in 2002, 2010 and 2015.

Since his remarks went viral he has rejected fellow councilmembers’ demands that he resign. One councilmember has launched a recall petition.

Salcido grew up in Pico Rivera, a city of about 63,000 residents, 90 percent of them Hispanic and located a dozen miles east of Los Angeles.

He was the subject of a flattering profile in the Los Angeles Times in 2002 when he made an unsuccessful bid for Congress. He told the newspaper then he wanted to inspire the same kind of passion to attend college in his students that his father had instilled in him.

On the recording he’s heard dismissing military people as not smart, adding the only ones who join are those who didn’t prepare for college.

“They’re not like high-level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they’re the frickin’ lowest of our low,” he says, quickly adding that does not make them bad people.

Salcido told the City Council last month his remarks were taken out of context, adding he was attempting to motivate an apathetic student. While he said he wouldn’t apologize for what he said he did regret offending anybody.

“If anything I have said has hurt somebody, it was unintentional, and I hope that apology can be taken sincerely,” he said.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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