During the 2016 election season, Navarro said he commented in class that Trump was a racist, a misogynist and that he had fascist tendencies and characteristics. He also compared the rhetoric used by Trump on the campaign trail to rhetoric used by Hitler in the 1930s.
District administrators denied the claim that the suspension had anything to do with his Trump-related comments but declined to reveal details about a "specific parent and student complaint of a serious nature," leaving a cloud of uncertainty over what actually transpired.
Navarro told Mountain View-Los Altos High School District board members Monday night that he was prepared to put the matter behind him, but said he was forced to relitigate the issue when Harding told an East Bay Times reporter in June that Navarro's characterization of what happened was a "fabrication." Navarro slammed Harding for the accusation and demanded that the superintendent "stop lying."
"I fabricated nothing," Navarro said. "He's lying and slandering me, and that seems to be the policy from the very beginning."
When asked for a comment, district spokeswoman Cynthia Greaves told the Voice that Harding denies that he lied to the press on the matter and has nothing new to share, and that the issue is nearly two years old and has been thoroughly covered.
Navarro said he was told he would be put on paid leave for three days following the complaint and that there would be a subsequent investigation, though Principal Dave Grissom and then-Associate Superintendent Eric Goddard cited no specific violation leading to the suspension. After national and international media picked up the story that Navarro may have been put on leave for his critical comments on Trump, the suspension was dropped and Navarro was allowed to return to the classroom the following Monday. Given that Friday was a day off, he was suspended for a grand total of about one hour of class time.
Navarro told board members that the school community and the public deserves to know the truth about the original accusations, and claimed that Harding showed a "distinct lack of character" by refusing to clear his name and state for the record that the district never conducted a formal investigation.
"This community deserves to know the truth about teachers who are working with their kids," Navarro said. "Why lie about that? I did nothing to be put on leave for so much as a minute, or even the hour that it happened."
District parent Karl Kramer spoke at the meeting, telling board members that Navarro opted not to file a complaint against the district and let the suspension and the accusations slide. But he said Harding's "false" statement to the media earlier this year makes it impossible to ignore the matter.
"I ask you — do you want the character of the person who is running the education system for the children in this community to be somebody who will knowingly make a false statement to benefit themselves, to the detriment of the staff and the students?" Kramer said. "If your answer is yes, this is a very, very bad board."
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