Salem substitute teacher reportedly tells fifth-grader to 'go back to Mexico'

(KATU Photo)

A substitute teacher has been barred from teaching at any school in the Salem-Keizer district after making a racially charged comment toward a fifth-grader at Swegle Elementary.

The teacher, who hasn't been identified, reportedly told the student he should "go back to Mexico" if he didn't want to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance.

"That comment that a substitute made to my son is not appreciated for any of my family members or myself," said Liliana Ruiz, mother of Steven Zendejas, the boy involved.

"She said, 'If you don't want to sing, go back to Mexico' and that made me feel really, really bad," Zendejas said.

A spokeswoman for the Salem-Keizer School District said the substitute teacher won't be allowed to work for the district any longer.

"We're really disappointed with what happened yesterday at Swegle Elementary," said Lillian Govus, district spokeswoman. "We pride ourselves on being a safe and welcoming school district. What that substitute said to that student doesn't align with our values."

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