Principal: Students are "Safe, Well Cared for at El Verano School"

Maite Iturri denies "gang presence" at elementary school, defends it as a place of "academic progress and social well-being"

Dear El Verano Families,

The Sonoma Index Tribune published an article on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 stating that there is a “gang presence” at El Verano Elementary School. This letter serves to clarify the statements made by the Sonoma Index Tribune from my perspective as the El Verano principal for the last seven years.

The El Verano staff and I continue to focus on two key student priorities: academic progress and social well-being. The safety of all students on this campus is of the utmost importance to the staff and families. Students who come to EV feel safe and well cared for by their peers and the adults on this campus. We are an engaged, proactive school community, and we strive to create a feeling of inclusion and cooperation for all.

The recent events that have taken place in the El Verano neighborhood, including Maxwell Park, Taco Bell, and the El Verano campus have happened at night. We do not have a gang presence on this campus during school hours. People who come onto this campus in the late evening when the campus is closed are unwelcome. The acts of vandalism and criminal activity have dramatically decreased in the seven years I have been principal. Where we once had fourteen acts of vandalism in 2007, we have had zero
for the last three years.

The events of March 29, 2013 and April 5, 2013 are tragic and damaging to a community. The El Verano community is a close knit group who support and look out for one another. The poor choices being made by some of our community members negatively affect us all. It makes us more fearful and worried. I was not contacted for information or comment as to the late night activity on this campus, and I am concerned that the statements and commentary in the press regarding alleged gang activity in our school and community have mischaracterized our campus, our students, and our families.

Please rest assured that your children are safe and well cared for at El Verano School. Our staff considers safety and security of this campus a daily priority. We have safety plans in place in the event of an emergency during school hours. The events that have taken place are happening in the late evening hours and are more an anomaly than a regular occurrence. If you have any further questions please contact me at 707.935.6050.

Maite Iturri

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