NATOMAS (CBS13) — Supporters are rallying behind a Sacramento teacher who was caught on camera expressing his support for Antifa.
In September, Natomas Unified School District teacher Gabriel Gipe was placed on paid administrative leave after calls for his termination from dozens of parents. The board took action Wednesday to move forward with officially firing Gipe.
Since the video of the Inderkum High School teacher sparked calls for his firing, community activist and CEO of Ascribe Educational Consulting Sonia Lewis explained there have been at least 100 people who have called or written their support for the teacher.
"What I'm hearing personally is that Mr. Gipe is a good teacher, students are appreciative of his approach," explained Lewis.
Gipe was tapped in an off-campus conversation by a right-wing organization called Project Veritas prompting parents last month to demand Gipe be fired, but Lewis believes the calls are misguided.
"The expectation is that they are given a variety of policies and procedures and types of government so they can be analytical and global citizens," she said. "I think it sets a horrible precedence when we are talking about the fear teachers are feeling in this moment about 'Do we teach the truth or not, who are we making comfortable or not.'"
In the recording, Gipe is heard saying "I have an Antifa flag on my wall. A student complained about that and said it made them feel uncomfortable. Well, it's meant to make fascists feel uncomfortable.' "
The school district claims an investigation revealed hundreds of pages of disciplinary charges demonstrating a pattern of inappropriate behavior apart from the video.
"There was an accusation that Mr. Gipe was terminated for the content of the video. That is not true. After an investigation, Mr. Gipe was recommended for termination because he had violated many policies, Education Code, and more. As we shared, there are nearly 400 pages of charges and evidence. Mr. Gipe was actively teaching pro-communism ideology in a US Government class. Students interviewed shared how uncomfortable they felt in his class based on his teachings," district spokesperson Deidra Powell said in a statement.
Civil rights attorney Mark Merin believes the district is not giving Gipe due process.
"This is largely a first amendment question as I see it. If there is anything in his teaching that has raised any questions, there is a process for that. Normally, teachers are given guidance," said Merin.
Both Merin and Lewis question the validity of the district's claims of violations against Gipe and why they were not addressed earlier.
"If Mr. Gipe is guilty of anything, that means his principal is guilty of something, that means the person who is above he or she is guilty of something because that means they all dropped the ball," explained Lewis.
In the coming days, Gipe will receive a formal letter of termination from the district, which he will have the opportunity to appeal.
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