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Letter from the Superintendent: Follow Up to Incidents in the Canal this Weekend

Posted Date: 9/18/23 (5:51 PM)

Follow Up to Incidents in the Canal this Weekend
Letter from the Superintendent

Dear San Rafael City Schools Community,

San Rafael City Schools is proud to recognize and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. During this time, we celebrate and honor the histories, cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. We especially pay tribute to the Latinos in our own District who have positively influenced and enriched our SRCS community. We have welcomed a growing number of recent immigrant students and families into our schools, many of whom are from Guatemala and other Central American countries, and a predominant number live in the Canal neighborhood in East San Rafael. 

Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off this past Friday, September 15; a significant date because it is the anniversary of independence for many Central American countries. It was heartening that many in our community participated in vibrant, peaceful hours-long celebrations at Northgate Mall and in the Canal on Friday. 

Unfortunately, after those crowds dispersed and later in the night, there were groups in the Canal that engaged in numerous acts of violence and disruption that disrespected the community and required response from the San Rafael Police Department. I know I speak for many in saying how deeply troubling it is that the unlawful, destructive behaviors of some have such a large impact on our greater community. There is a tremendous sense of pride and community in the Canal neighborhood, and we must not let groups of people making bad choices ruin it.

It is also with great sadness that we share that two San Rafael High School Class of 2020 alumni tragically passed away early Saturday morning as a result of a fatal car crash into the Canal waterway. We send our condolences to the families and loved ones impacted by this tragic incident.  

The events from this weekend will understandably affect many in our SRCS community, especially those who live in the Canal. Students may have various degrees of awareness around what happened, and we anticipate that some may experience feelings of confusion, frustration and sorrow. Please observe your child over the next several days to watch for signs that may indicate a need for additional support and please do not hesitate to contact your child’s school office if you feel they are in need of special assistance. We have counseling staff available to assist students at all our schools, as well as Wellness Centers and Family Centers at many of our schools that offer many integrated services to students and families, including on-site mental health support.

In my short amount of time in SRCS, it has already become clear how the community steps up to support one another in difficult times. I look forward to partnering with our students, staff, families and partners as we navigate together, while also continuing to highlight the beauty and diversity of San Rafael throughout the month.  
Carmen Diaz Ghysels 

San Rafael City Schools  |
310 Nova Albion Way
San Rafael, CA 94903