SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Ahead of Wednesday night's Natomas Unified School District board meeting, a press conference was held by community activists defending an Inderkum High School government teacher who was unknowingly filmed making controversial comments.
In a video posted last month by Project Veritas, a conservative group known for using undercover methods to reveal supposed liberal bias, Gabriel Gipe would be heard speaking about turning his class into "revolutionaries."
Ahead of the school board meeting, lawyers, educators, activists and former students stood in Midtown Sacramento Wednesday afternoon to defend the teacher. The main point was to address the district's actions in placing the teacher on leave and his potential termination. Gabriel Gibe was not in attendance at the press conference.
"Reflecting back in my time at Inderkum, I can count on one hand the amount of teachers that I felt represented or enthusiastically accepted by, and Gipe is at the top of that list," Rhianna Usoh, a former student of Gipe, said. "The entire situation is ridiculous."
Following the posting of the video, many angry parents voiced to the school board that Gipe was “pushing his leftist agenda onto students.”
At the time, the school district said in a statement that they were investigating the teacher and had placed Gipe on administrative paid leave with a recommendation to fire him. Their statement also said that "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."
The district told ABC10 Gipe is still on administrative paid leave and did not confirm whether or not they would move forward with firing him. They did say, however, upon drafting of charges, Gipe would be placed on unpaid status pending a hearing.
Read the full statement from the Natomas Unified School District below:
We are aware that there was a press conference regarding Mr. Gipe this afternoon. There are a few things that we would like to clarify that were wildly misrepresented at that press conference today. Before we address that, we want to share that in the next few days, Mr. Gipe will receive nearly 400 pages of disciplinary charges and evidence/exhibits that will demonstrate an overwhelming pattern of unprofessional and inappropriate behavior. Nothing prevents Mr. Gipe from sharing all of those nearly 400 pages with the public. Natomas Unified wishes it could share the evidence it has. However, we are in the middle of due process.
During today’s press conference, two or three speakers spoke where equity is not happening such as the history of people of color not being included in curriculum and teaching. Natomas Unified recognizes the historical absence and contributions of people of color included in curriculum and has solidified steps to address it in the district with an Administrative Regulation. We support diversity in Natomas and are actively striving to have curriculum that better reflects the contributions of our diverse world. Our Board approved Administrative Regulation 0100 states:
To provide equity in the Theory of Action, the district must address continue to address educational practices, student engagement activities, and actions necessary to eliminate educational barriers based on gender, race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or other protected group status; and provide equal educational opportunities to ensure historically under-served or under-represented populations have the same opportunities and meet the same high expectations for academic performance expected of all children/students and youth. These same students must also have the access to the same social emotional supports.
Natomas Unified has been addressing issues of equity, disproportionality and disparity for years. We’ve been a leader in the county for increased access for students of color to attend college and career.
A few of our results are reflected below:
- African American graduation rate is 93% compared to state average of 77%
- Hispanic/Latinx graduation rate is 96% compared to the state average of 82%
- 70% of NUSD graduates met A-G requirements, courses required for CSU/UC admission
- In addition to student success results:
- Natomas Unified has a US History: Race and Social Justice that has been in place for * years and will continue.
- A work team has started, before the Governor signed the bill to make Ethnic Studies a required class, on an ethnic studies course that will be available for students in August 2022.
- Staff has started and has a target of November 1, 2022, to present to Trustees recommendations on English Language Arts and History Social Studies K-12 curriculum that will integrate culturally responsive, anti-racist/anti-biased curriculum, that is intended to reverse the marginalization of traditionally underrepresented/untapped student groups throughout history and text. That work is underway.
- The Board of Trustees is the first to take up the 1300 Campaign resolution to support more Black and Hispanic young men being accepted to and supported to graduate at Sac State and UC Davis.
- The district has had a practice of not suspending students K-12 for 48900k (willful disobedience and defiance) which has for decades affected young women and men of color in schools across the country. Tonight, the Board will take action to make that practice a policy for PreK-12th grades.
- And there is more.
There were comments that he was praised for being an excellent teacher because students voted for him to speak at Graduation. He was selected by 16 students (3%), out of 120 who voted, and 529 seniors overall. He was not recognized for excellence in teaching.
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, Ed 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. These were students of different ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. This has nothing to do with efforts to teach curriculum that was intended to reverse the marginalization of traditionally underrepresented/untapped student groups throughout history and text.
Mr. Merin, a local civil rights attorney, expressed concerns that Mr. Gipe was being held accountable for statements made outside of work and that due process is not being followed. On both counts, counsel is mistaken. Gabriel Gipe was interviewed by staff August 30, and allowed to share his version of the incident(s). He has been on paid administrative leave since September 1, 2021. Upon drafting of charges, Mr. Gipe would be placed on unpaid status pending a hearing. While Natomas Unified moved quickly to protect its students, there has been no violation of due process. Additionally, while Mr. Gipe was interviewed without his knowledge, he agreed to meet in a public place with someone he had spoken to in his role as a district teacher. In fact, in an email dated August 30, 2021 at 7:44 pm, Mr. Gipe explained to a colleague that a prospective Inderkum parent wanted to speak with an AP Government teacher. Mr. Gipe only spoke with what we now know was an “undercover” member of a political group because of his role as a teacher and that this prospective parent wished to “get plugged into activist work here in Sacramento.” Mr. Gipe agreed to meet in person with the prospective parent. In his same email, Mr. Gipe stated “During our conversation we discussed politics, the organizations doing progressive work in the community and how I manage my classroom.” He was clearly representing his school and district.
As you can clearly see, the parties that spoke this afternoon at the press conference did not have all of the information and based their claims on assumptions and misinformation. We are happy to clear this up with facts.