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Student harassed for serving in the military

February 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A student, who's also a soldier, is speaking out about what he calls harassment that he endured at the hands of a teacher.

On Tuesday, Sgt. Omar Leyva attended his first day of classes at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College in downtown Los Angeles. He expected an uneventful art class, but instead he said was verbally attacked by the teacher.

"I didn't expect it, especially at school," said Leyva. "[He was] telling me how he hated the military. Hated, I guess, what they stood for."

Leyva, who has been a National Guardsman for 14 years, was running late and went to the class still wearing his uniform. The teacher allegedly began insulting him in front of all the other students.

"He generalized saying, 'All they teach you is how to murder, how to kill. You probably can't sleep at night,'" said Leyva. "I was in awe. I didn't know how to respond to that."

The school said that they have been unable to get in contact with the teacher to ask him about the allegations.

"In terms of what we think about our veterans, it's nothing but the absolute highest pride and respect," said Dr. Roland Chapdelaine, president of the L.A. Trade-Technical College.

Chapdelaine said that since no one has approached the school officially with these allegations, he doesn't want to want to comment specifically about the case until there is an investigation.

"We have not validated that," said Chapdelaine. "We haven't talked to the faculty member. We are in the process of trying to contact the faculty member to see if that's what he said. So obviously he has a right to give us his opinion."

On the website RateMyProfessors.com there are several comments about this teacher, including "He talks about races and cultures in a negative way. A student should have the right to learn and not be mentally abused." and "He is rude and not very helpful when it comes to assignments."

Several students at the school are upset that a teacher would say this.

"That's horrible because they are actually defending our country," said student Tracy Lainez. "Even if they are not overseas or anything like that, they're still just doing their job."

"They're doing nothing wrong," said student Victoria Ektarian. "A murderer is someone who kills someone with their car or something, and drinks and drives. That's a murderer. Not someone who signs up to defend our country."

Eyewitness News tried contacting the professor, but was not able to get a hold of him.

Meanwhile, Levya said he dropped that class because he didn't believe he'd get a fair chance.

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