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California teacher placed on leave after video mocking Native Americans surfaces

The Riverside, California, teacher wore paper feathers and chanted during a math lesson.
/ Source: TODAY

A California teacher has been placed on leave after a student captured video of the teacher mocking Native Americans while teaching math to students.

In a now viral video, a Riverside Unified School District teacher appears to be explaining "Sohcahtoa," a term used to help students memorize specific trigonomic functions, while wearing a headdress of paper feathers.

The teacher, whose identity has not been confirmed by the school district, appears to use an imaginary tomahawk while hopping around the room, chanting and stomping. At one point, the female educator leaps onto her desk and calls out to summon a goddess.

On Thursday, the school district put out an official statement regarding the incident.

"A recording of one of our teachers has been widely circulated on social media," an official statement from the school district read. "These behaviors are completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices."

Riverside Unified School District said the teacher's actions are not representative of the values upheld by the district and that she has been placed "on leave" while an investigation is conducted.

"The Riverside Unified School District values diversity, equity and inclusion, and does not condone behavior against these values," the statement continued. "We are deeply committed to implementing inclusive practices and policies that honor the rich diversity of our district and the greater region. We will be working with our students, families, staff and community to regain your trust."

NBC News reported that the two-minute video was filmed by a student in the class and was uploaded to the internet by family friend Akalei Brown.

"The very concerned, actually for the well being of the teacher," Brown told NBC News. "He's actually said he was happy that it happened to him...we have the highest suicide rate in teens in the nation. And so we're glad it happened with someone who was able to digest it instead of internalize it and go home and hurt themselves."

Brown told NBC she believes the accused teacher should be fired.

"We are constantly looked at as an afterthought, a mascot, less than human," she said. "And in this day and age, it's just time for change."