History teacher Frank Navarro to return Monday after environment deemed safe for students

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Administration put history teacher Frank Navarro on paid administrative leave on Thursday, Nov. 10. Originally, according to Navarro, he was supposed to return on Wednesday, Nov 16. However, at around 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13, Superintendent Jeff Harding informed Navarro that he would be returning to school on Monday.

While Navarro originally said that his leave was due to comparisons between Adolf Hitler and President-elect Donald Trump, Harding later said that Navarro’s paid leave was for a different reason which he is not at liberty to disclose.

“The administrators involved were responding to a specific parent and student complaint of a serious nature,” Harding said in an email to the Oracle on Nov. 13. “It is our duty to investigate such a complaint to ensure the emotional safety of all of our students.”

According to Harding, Navarro was absent during the investigation of the complaint, but will now be reinstated as administration is now “confident that the environment [is]safe for students.”

However, Navarro still maintains that he was told that he was put on paid administrative leave for his comments on Trump and Hitler.

 “The assistant superintendent said from the email [from the parent]that…I called Trump Hitler,” Navarro said. “I am mystified [by Harding’s reasons]because those were the only comments made.”

In an interview with CBS SF Bay Area, Navarro said that looking back, he doesn’t regret his actions.

“I would do it again, absolutely. I think it’s a heated time; I think we are polarized and that we have forgotten what it means to exchange ideas.”

After seeing responses from community members on social media, Navarro acknowledged the overwhelming support.

“Words cannot begin to express my gratitude and love in my heart that has come from the outpouring of responses from community, students, parents, former students,” Navarro said. “I am moved and deeply appreciative. I cannot thank everybody enough.”

photo from change.org

Update Nov. 14 at 7:45 a.m.: 

Previously the headline claimed that allegations were proved false. However, according to Superintendent Jeff Harding, the environment was determined safe for students, and the original headline was inaccurate. 

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14 Comments

  1. I am actually embarrassed of my daughter’s school for the first time in my life. The administrative response boils down to “Something happened, but it’s not what Mr. Navarro says. We won’t tell you what it was, except to imply it relates to student safety in some nebulous way. Just take our word for it.” That is completely and utterly unacceptable, the entire administrative staff should be ashamed of themselves and their behavior throughout.

    Many other commenters have already posted that Mr. Navarro is owed an apology, but more than that, the parents are owed an actual explanation.

  2. Excellent reporting Oracle, I especially appreciate explaining why and how the article headline was changed, instead of silently changing it to what Superintendant wants it to be.

  3. Really? How can a teacher like Navarro use taxpayers’ money to brainwash students in class?

    He is of course free to express whatever nonsense he has OUTSIDE of school with his own expenses. But please keep his personal political view outside of taxpayers funded school.

    It teachers really need to talk politics, they should represent balanced views from all.

    He should be fired.

    • This was a factual based class discussion on parallels between Trump and Hitler from an educator that has spent his life studying the Holocaust. These are facts and maybe you should study yours since you don’t seem to think that Hitler and Trump have any similarities. I think you would benefit from having Mr. Navarro as a teacher. Mountain View High School knows that they have made a HUGE mistake and is now trying to cover it up. And “brainwash students” oh please…. and it’s not opinion based if they are solid facts which they were. You’re an idiot and should read a history book maybe.

    • If you think a Holocaust scholar discussing the parallels between Trump and Hitler in a history class is brainwashing, you are misinformed. There is no pretending Trumps campaign wasn’t fueled with hate filled rhetoric for women and minorities.

    • If you think a Holocaust scholar discussing the parallels between Trump and Hitler in a history class is “brainwashing,” you are ill-informed. There is no pretending that Trump’s campaign wasn’t fueled by hate filled rhetoric for racial and religious minorities. Frank Navarro is owed an apology.

    • As a former student of Frank Navarro AP Euro history class, Navarro has always provided an environment where student can discuss politics in a safe and respectful manner. History is a dynamic subject and it would be foolish to teach history without talking about current events. This is high school. Students need to be exposed to different ideas and opinions in order have a productive dialogue. I never felt that Navarro was “brainwashing” me or my peers during my time in his class. Navarro has always accommodated and respected the viewpoints of every student.

    • Navarro did not use taxpayers’ money to educate himself. “The 65-year-old was named a Mandel Fellow for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1997 and has studied at the International Center for the Study of the Holocaust in Jerusalem”. To my knowledge, this is not affiliated with Mountain View High School or your state taxes. Additionally, if talking about/comparing political figures in a history class is unacceptable in your eyes, what is? If we do not learn about our history, compare contrast, and analyze trends, we are bound to repeat it—which is what happened. “Talking politics” is when people give their own opinions and thoughts about a political matter, which does not have to necessarily be grounded in fact. Navarro’s case, however, does not include or offer an opinion and therefore can’t be criticized as such.

      This is not a reason to lose one’s job.

  4. Hopefully readers are taking note of the footnote: “Previously the headline claimed that allegations were proved false. However, according to Superintendent Jeff Harding, the environment was determined safe for students, and the original headline was inaccurate.”

    So now it appears Harding is attempting to censor the Oracle. All this “safe environment” talk is just a proxy for “teach our way, or get out.” How can any respectable history curriculum avoid discussion of politics, anyway? This educator should be investigated for censorship.

  5. Mr. Navarro is owed an apology by Principal Grissom and Superintendent Harding. The implications that Mr. Navarro was or has ever been an unsafe educator are insulting. This is a public school; Navarro, students, and parents have a right to know the nature of the “serious” allegation in the email. This looks like serious backpedaling on the part of administrators to hide the fact that they prioritized one student’s comfort over historical comparisons by a Holocaust expert, not to mention the dozens of students who went without a teacher and were disrupted in their studies by Mr. Navarro’s leave.

    Today, I’m ashamed to be an MVHS alumnus. The secrecy and authoritarian reflex that caused the current admins to put Navarro on leave has made our school look ridiculous on the national and international stage. Family and friends across the country have emailed me since Friday regarding this embarrassing spectacle.

    Here’s a hint, Grissom and Harding: Right now, folks are looking for clues as to what shape the president-elect’s term will take, and you have tripped over yourselves to paint a sloppy, ugly picture of what it looks like to speak out against bigotry – in a diverse, formerly welcoming public school, no less.

  6. Mountain View High Scool has done Mr.Navarro wrong. A man who has dedicated his life to his job. Making connections between the past and present day is not a crime and should not be punished. We study the past so we don’t make the same mistakes. He is an incredible teacher and an incredible man. Mountain View High School should apologize so Mr.Navarro can continue his passion as an educator.

  7. Giaff Ferrante MD FACS on

    Good work to the Oracle for drawing national attention to this episode. I lived in the Bay Area for years and so this caught my eye. Stephen Bannon, Trump’s White House strategy adviser, was once compared to Leni Riefenstahl by his own boss at Breitbart. I don’t think there is anything wrong with drawing parallels between Germany in the 30s and the US today, especially if the players are doing it themselves. Shame on the school administration for its lack of transparency and for its reflexive censorship of a well known and respected teacher. This kind of collaborative behavior is exactly what allowed the events in Germany to transpire not so long ago.

    • Congratulations to the Oracle staff for covering this story and gaining national and international attention. Putting the spotlight on the actions of all parties involved as well as the behavior of the school’s administration is the best way for the truth to shine.