Supporters of a Natomas Unified School District teacher filmed in an undercover video discussing antifa called on the district to allow the teacher to return to his post at a press conference Wednesday at the Sacramento office of the civil rights lawyer Mark Merin.
Natomas Unified has announced plans to fire Inderkum High School teacher Gabriel Gipe after conservative group Project Veritas filmed him and posted a 12-minute edited video of him sharing how he wants his students to become revolutionary.
District officials confirmed that Gipe had political signage in his classroom and, with his own money, purchased a series of rubber stamps to mark student work, including stamps with images of Josef Stalin, Fidel Castro and Kim Jung Un.
“After an investigation, Mr. Gipe’s dismissal was recommended because he had violated numerous policies, the Ed code and more,” read a statement from Natomas Unified. “As we have shared, there are almost 400 pages of accusations and evidence. Mr. Gipe was actively teaching pro-Communism ideology in a US government course.
The district said Gipe “clearly represented his school and district” in the taped conversation. Its termination must be approved by the board of directors.
Merin, who does not officially represent Gipe, said the district advanced its decision without due process.
“How come a school board can come to a conclusion and announce disciplinary action against a fantastic teacher who is elated by his students without the minimum due process that is enshrined in our state constitution, our federal constitution and in the contract ? that teachers have with their school board? said Merin.
Merin criticized the Natomas school board for not having gone through the stages of representation, a hearing for Gipe, and allowing him to defend the charges against him.
“It’s very worrying for me,” he said.
Gipe did not attend the press conference.
The undercover video quoted Gipe as saying, “I have 180 days to turn them (the students) into revolutionaries… Scare them off.” He also explained how the antifa flag shouldn’t make students uncomfortable, only fascists. Gipe apparently agreed to meet the person who registered him after that person said they were considering enrolling their child in a school in Natomas.
Project Veritas, founded in 2010, uses secret recordings to target media organizations and progressive causes. His targets have included Planned Parenthood and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
Merin confirmed that Gipe had been widely harassed at his home, followed and taunted since the Project Veritas video made headlines.
Several community organizers spoke at the press conference, some of whom called for the dismissal of Natomas Superintendent Chris Evans for agreeing to sit down with Project Veritas in a 30-minute interview after a heated school board meeting where dozens of parents and community members have called for Gipe’s dismissal. .
Josh Kaizuka of the Japanese American Citizens League in Sacramento called the decision to terminate Gipe a parody.
“We are talking about a classroom, a history class, a government and civic education class, where teaching different political beliefs, a teacher is attacked,” he said. “And not just attacked by right-wing fascists and so-called social media organizations, but a school district succumbing to pressure from a group of people.”
Sonia Lewis, a community activist who works with several area school districts, said teachers across the country feared losing their jobs for telling the truth in history classes.
“And this truth is simply the story of those who have been excluded from black and brown and indigenous communities, API, Latinx, LGBTQ, Muslims across the country,” Lewis said. “Having taught social sciences in this state, knowing the standards required to ensure that information is disseminated based on information on standards and programs, I know for sure that the revolution is a change and that it is positive . “
The district said in its statement that the students interviewed “shared how uncomfortable they felt in (Gipe’s) class based on his teachings. They were students of different ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. This has nothing to do with efforts to teach a curriculum designed to reverse the marginalization of traditionally under-represented / untapped student groups through history and text.
Rhianna Usoh, an Inderkum High graduate, said Gipe was one of her favorite teachers. Gipe was featured on the school’s website, was voted the best teacher in the district, and was recently selected as an Inderkum High speaker.
“The hypocrisy in the district’s claims to educate global citizens while simultaneously perpetuating extremely damaging allegations and accusations about a teacher who does just that – to educate engaged global citizens – is nauseating,” said Usoh.
At least three men who did not identify themselves gathered outside the office with a megaphone, cursing the media and asking Gipe to introduce himself. Merin said the protesters threatened to vandalize the law firm and then moved the press conference indoors.
This story was originally published October 13, 2021 4:45 pm.