Pico Rivera, CA
Gregory Salcido, a high school teacher and City Council member in Pico Rivera, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, was fired by his school and asked to resign from the Council after a student recorded him calling people in the military the “lowest of the low.” Salcido appealed the El Ranchero School Board’s decision to fire him and has refused to resign from the City Council.
Gregory Salcido was a history and government teacher at El Ranchero High School, when he was fired after a student recorded him making disparaging comments about the US military. He has served on the Pico Rivera City Council for 20 years, though he has now been stripped of committee assignments and is currently the subject of a recall effort. He is also a former mayor of the city, serving in that position for three one-year terms in 2002, 2010, and 2015. The Pico Rivera City Council members choose the mayor and mayor pro tempore each year from among their ranks.
Salcido was filmed criticizing people in the military after one of his students wore a United States Marines sweatshirt to class on January 26, 2018, reported the Whittier Daily News. In the video, the teacher can be heard repeatedly referring to members of the military as “dumb,” in addition to saying that “they’re the frickin’ lowest of the low” who “have no other options.” His rant included expletives and racial stereotypes, according to The Washington Post. He said the military was losing to “dudes wearing freaking robes and chanclas [flip-flops] in Iraq and Afghanistan … The data is in, we don’t have a good military … We couldn’t beat the Vietnamese. They’re a bunch of people this freaking big throwing rice.” The Post reported that Salcido said he and his family received death threats after the video circulated in January. The student who made the video and wore the sweatshirt that prompted Salcido’s remarks is Victor Quinonez, who has largely stayed out of the public spotlight. CBS Los Angeles said that his attorney urged the community to let Salcido have due process.
CBS reported that after the video surfaced and circulated on Facebook, protesters challenged Salcido at a February 13 city council meeting and called on him to resign. Many of the protesters were veterans or had family in the military. During the meeting, Salcido attempted to explain why he had made the comments in question, saying that his ultimate goal was to get his students to go to college, and saying that he doesn’t “want [his students] to work at a fast food restaurant either.” The council passed a resolution stripping Salcido of his committee assignments, and also called on him to resign. Salcido voted against the resolution, and indicated that he had no intention of resigning.
The Daily News reported that the El Ranchero Unified School Board voted in a closed session to fire Salcido during a March 20 board meeting, after hearing public comment from resident John Albitre and Pico Rivera City Councilman Bob Archuleta. Albitre reportedly said that he would also try to get Salcido stripped of his teaching credentials.
The school’s superintendent said that the district had done “a thorough investigation that covered many, many areas” before deciding to fire Salcido. The school board released the findings of its investigation, revealing that Salcido had been disciplined before for using corporal punishment, had kept and deleted pornographic images from his work computer, and had faced repeated accusations of bullying and threatening his students.
Salcido drops appeal against school board decision to fire him from teaching position at El Ranchero High School
Salcido entered into what the Daily News described as a “quasi-judicial” process to appeal his March 20 firing by the El Ranchero school board. Throughout the appeals process, he remained on unpaid leave with the district. As of December 9, 2018, Salcido has dropped his appeal, saying he no longer wants his job back.
Recall effort underway to remove Salcido from Office
Raul Elias, a teacher at El Ranchero High School, secured approval from the city clerk’s office to begin a petition to recall Salcido from his position on the City Council, reported the Daily News. The petition requires the signatures of 20 percent of El Ranchero’s voters, 6,386 names in total, by August 21, 2018. If Elias successfully gathers enough signatures in the allotted time, and if the city clerk’s office can verify those signatures, the clerk will go to the Council to set up a recall election. On the same ballot, voters can choose whether or not to recall Salcido, and, if they do recall him, select his replacement from a list of candidates. If voters choose to recall Salcido and no other candidate is on the ballot, the City Council can appoint someone to serve out the remaining two years of his term.
Prepared by Gustav Honl-Stuenkel ‘20
Uploaded May 21, 2018
Updated December 9, 2018