SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A teacher’s union rep was caught on hidden camera admitting he hit a student and got away with it. Now he’s in the hot seat.
In the video, a man identified as Antonio Mankini is heard saying, “I can see grabbing a kid, I can see throwing a kid up against a locker. Not that I’ve ever done that, okay once, maybe twice.”
Mankini is a math, science and technology teacher on leave from James Lick Middle School and who is now the Staff Organizer and Treasurer of United Educators, San Francisco – the union that represents all of San Francisco’s educators.
When asked how a man with leanings like this make it into the upper ranks of a union that represents teachers, Matthew Hardy, a member of the teachers’ union said, “I can only speak to the comments on the video. When we do our investigation, if we determine it’s accurate we will take action as necessary.”
This undercover video was shot by a group called Project Veritas, the brainchild of conservative video activist James O’Keefe. The years-long investigation looks into several teachers’ unions nationally.
But this conversation with Mankini is the centerpiece of its video.
“I clotheslined a kid in a class one time, you know and of course I was pretending, I was pointing at the kids and the kids saw… the kid went down.”
He goes on to advise the person recording the video — who he thinks is a teacher — that ‘elbows are awesome weapons, too.’ He explains the threats that he made to kids when he was in the classroom.
“I mean teachers have smacked kids before. And sometimes they’re still working.”
The video came out Tuesday morning and Mankini’s union has since put him on administrative leave and launched and investigation into the video’s contents.
“We are going to get to the bottom of it. We are deeply committed to students’ safety. And we will act as swiftly as we can once we have the full information,” said Hardy.
San Francisco Unified spokesperson Blythe Gentle issued a statement saying, “We have grave concerns about the behavior Mr. Mankini references and encourage any former students, staff or family members who may have experienced mistreatment from Mr. Mankini or any other district employee to report their concerns immediately.”
Project Veritas has gone after several high-profile targets this year. It claimed to have hundreds of hours of secret recordings from inside the CNN network and also targeted NPR and Planned Parenthood. In 2009, it went after the community group known as ACORN, posing as a pimp and questioning staffers about operating a brothel and evading taxes. In that case, the videos were misleadingly edited. O’Keefe apologized to an ACORN employee who had been fired after the video’s release and agreed to pay $100,000 in a settlement.