East Edition Lead Story

Teacher in hot water over anti-military remarks

PICO RIVERA — The future is uncertain for Pico Rivera City Councilman and high school teacher Gregory Salcido.

Salcido, a history and government teacher at El Rancho High School, was put on administrative leave by the El Rancho Unified School District Jan. 29, three days after a video apparently recorded in his classroom went viral after it was posted on Facebook.

On the video, Salcido can be heard making disparaging remarks about the military.

Victor Quinoñez, a 17-year-old senior at El Rancho High School, recorded the cellphone video after Salcido made comments about the U.S. Marines sweatshirt Quinoñez was wearing.

Salcido is heard criticizing the military, although his face is not seen.

“Think about the people who you know who are over there. Your freaking stupid Uncle Louie or whatever. They’re dumbs….s. They’re not like high-level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they’re not intellectual people. They’re the lowest of our low.”

“We have all our night vision goggles and all that kind of stuff, and we can’t freaking control these dudes wearing freaking robes and [sandals],” Salcido said.

“Because we have a bunch of dumbs—s over there.”

Salcido could not be reached for comment for this story. His only response since the story broke was to the Los Angeles Times.

In an email to the newspaper, he wrote, “Because of the many vulgar and violent threats against my family, I do not have any comment on the situation at this time.”

That was on Jan. 29. On Jan. 31 the story went national when White House chief of staff John Kelly offered a hard backlash to Salcido’s comments.

Speaking on Fox News Radio in a post-State of the Union interview, Kelly, a retired Marine general said, “Well, I think he ought to go to hell. I just hope he enjoys the liberties and the lifestyle that we have fought for.”

Salcido’s colleagues on the City Council issued a statement Jan. 29.

“We the elected governing body of the city of Pico Rivera unequivocally disagree and condemn the recent comments made by Council member Salcido regarding those individuals who have served or are currently serving in our nation’s military,” the statement said.

“The city of Pico Rivera was founded upon the principles, values and sacrifices of many of our veterans who when called upon by our nation served with great pride and honor.”

Mayor Gustavo Camacho and three other council members, Mayor Pro Tem Brent Tecero, and Councilmen Bob Archuleta and David Armenta signed it.

“This is a school district personnel matter that they must deal with and we as a city will continue to move the city forward,” Camacho said, adding that he had removed Salcido from the council committees that he served on.

The El Rancho school board scheduled an emergency meeting Jan. 30 with only two items on the agenda: hiring a law firm in public session and discussing a legal matter in closed session.

More than 150 people crowded into a small room at the district’s headquarters on Passons Boulevard wanting to discuss Salcido, but school board President Aurora Villon disappointed the crowd.

“We will not entertain public comments that are not part of the agenda, so at this point we will move on and I have looked through them and no one has listed an agenda item,” Villon told the audience.

She was interrupted by someone in the audience who asked why Salcido was not a topic of discussion.

“This is why you have so people are here,” she said.

The board voted to hire the law firm of Garcia Hernandez Sawhney to provide general legal counsel to the district, beginning Jan. 31.

Despite the adverse reactions, some support Salcido.

According to an ABC 7 interview, Gary Winthorpe — a student at El Rancho High School — claimed the video is misleading and a lot of things Salcido said were left out, including positive things about the military.

Winthorpe said that Salcido even told Quinoñez that he would support him if he joined the military.

This is not the first time Salcido has been in trouble for his actions inside the classroom. In 2012, Salcido was placed on leave for “smacking” a student who had fallen asleep in class in the back of his head.

Salcido admitted hitting the student, but said it was “grossly exaggerated.”

In 2010, a parent complained that Salcido threatened his daughter and made inappropriate comments. He denied it, but was still temporarily suspended.