A school district in Southern California says it’s looking into allegations that a teacher told his history class that military service members are “the lowest of our low.”
A student says he captured the comments on video during teacher Gregory Salcido’s class.
Salcido teaches history at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera and serves as a city council member in the southeastern Los Angeles County community.
The video doesn’t show Salcido’s face, but the Pico Rivera City Council acknowledged it’s him in a statement it issued to condemn the comments.
“We the elected governing body of the City of Pico Rivera unequivocally disagree and condemn the recent comments made by Councilmember Salcido regarding those individuals who have served or are currently serving in our nation’s military,” the statement said.
CNN has tried to reach Salcido for comment but hasn’t heard back. He also didn’t answer the door when CNN visited his home Monday.
The video was shot by Victor Quiñonez, a 17-year-old senior.
Karen Rodriguez, Quiñonez’s mother, told CNN that her son was wearing a Marine Corps sweatshirt that day. When he got up to turn in some work, Salcido asked him to explain why he was planning on joining the military after graduation.
Then he made the comments, and Victor started surreptitiously taping it when he got back to his desk, Rodriguez said.
“They are not high-level bankers, they are not academic people, they are not intellectual people,” the voice in the video says. “They are the lowest of our low.”
“I don’t understand why we let the military guys come over here and recruit you at school. We don’t let pimps come in the school,” the voice adds in the 6-minute video recording.
In another part of the video, the voice also appeared to make racial statements about Asians:
“We couldn’t beat the Vietnamese, they are a bunch of people this big throwing rice at us, and we couldn’t beat them.”
The voice also tells the student not to join the military and to never wear the sweatshirt again.
Quiñonez’s father is a Marine Corps veteran who fought in Afghanistan, Rodriguez said. And Quiñonez plans to follow in his footsteps.
So he felt discouraged and offended when he heard his teacher speak so negatively of the military, his mother said.
Quiñonez showed the video to her. She shared it with a friend, who then posted it online Friday.
On Monday, the El Rancho Unified School District released a statement saying it’s looking into the incident.
“This morning our District is the center of attention over a video on social media where one of our teachers appears to disrespect the family values of our students and families in the classroom,” the statement said.
“Our classrooms are not the appropriate place for one-sided discussions that undermine the values our families hold dear. We are investigating. We will find out exactly what happened and take all appropriate action to ensure that the values of our students and families are respected in our schools.”
Pico Rivera School Board President Aurora Villon says board members have tried to speak with him but have not heard his side yet. She said that, at this time, Salcido will not be returning to El Rancho High School. The next school board meeting is February 6.
The following week, the Pico Rivera City Council will meet and Mayor Gustavo Camacho told CNN he plans to strip Salcido of his committee assignments. Salcido was elected to the Pico Rivera City Council in 1999.
CNN’s David Williams contributed to this story.