Bay Area teacher put on leave after comparing Trump to Hitler

A Bay Area high school teacher was put on paid administrative leave this week after comparing President-elect Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.  

Frank Navarro, a history and special education teacher at Mountain View High School, was asked to leave during school hours on Thursday after the administration received an email from a parent concerned about statements he made in class, the Mercury News reported.

Navarro, who has taught at the school for 40 years, told the Mercury News that his lesson plan was based on historical fact and that Hitler’s persecution of Jews and rise to power has “remarkable parallels” to the president-elect’s statements about Latinos, Muslims and African Americans during his bid for the presidency.

He said he told school officials: “I’m not pulling these facts out of my hat. It’s based on experience and work, and if I’m wrong, show me where I’m wrong. And then there was silence,” the Mercury News reported.

Navarro is an expert on the Holocaust. He 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.  

Navarro also is Mexican American, according to the Mercury News, and has had Latino students come up to him and say they worry they will be deported because of Trump.

Mountain View-Los Altos High School District administrators said Navarro was placed on leave until Wednesday but could possibly return as soon as Monday. During the presidential campaign, Trump called for a wall to be built along the U.S.-Mexican border, an increase in deportations of people in the country illegally and a ban on Muslims from entering the U.S.

In an interview with Mountain View High School’s student newspaper, the Oracle, Navarro said he made connections between Trump and Hitler but did not equate them. 

A senior in Navarro’s Civics and Economics class told the Oracle that Navarro asked students to find racist quotes from Trump and read them aloud.

“I do agree with some of [Trump’s] policies, and when I try to talk about it, [Navarro] just told me to shut up or said something super rude,” the student told the Oracle. 

Navarro denied telling any students to shut up.

A change.org petition calling for Navarro’s return had more than 6,700 signatures as of Sunday morning. 

Navarro’s suspension came on the same day another Bay Area high school administrator was placed on leave for comments about Trump.

Milpitas High School Principal Phil Morales was placed on leave for shouting expletives about Trump during a walkout of about 250 students protesting the president-elect, according to the Mercury News. 

Morales shouted, “… Donald Trump” in a speech recorded by a student and shared on Twitter. Morales told the Mercury News that as a Latino, he was scared by Trump.

hailey.branson@latimes.com

Twitter: @haileybranson

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