Everett teachers begged SFUSD for help in early March

Some 70 staffers at Everett Middle School in March sent a “desperate plea for help” to the San Francisco Unified School District that outlined frequent outbreaks of disorder and violence on campus — and begged for reinforcements ASAP for a staff stretched beyond its capacity.

“This past year has seen multiple major incidents at Everett involving guns, knives, pepper spray, intruders on campus, and multiple violent fights almost everyday,” reads the letter, sent to top SFUSD officials, including Superintendent Vincent Matthews, with the subject line “Requesting onsite support ASAP at Everett Middle School.”

“The recent shooting at the Safeway on the corner of Market St. and Church St. included our students and could have ended with a much worse outcome,” the letter continued. “Our site administration has frequently needed to call the SFPD to assist with student arrival and dismissal, often due to the possibility of violence from outsiders against our students. Multiple staff have also been attacked and even injured by students this year, some with pepper spray that resulted in student expulsion.”

That March 10 letter came more than six weeks before a pair of Mission Local articles chronicling the tumultuous and violent conditions at Everett, including a pair of on-the-record allegations from former teachers that they were assaulted by students. And it came more than seven weeks prior to an Everett student being beaten severely enough during an on-campus fight that he was hospitalized with “life-threatening injuries.”

“…we now find ourselves questioning our ability to even keep our students and staff safe during the school day and are writing to you in a desperate plea for help.”

From a letter from Everett teachers and staff to the school district sent on March 10, 2022

Just how thoroughly the district has addressed the situation that induced a clear and heated SOS from the school’s beleaguered staffers remains a point of contention. When asked about its actions at the school, the district sent a 1,000-word statement. Among other steps, the district emphasized that it had hired an additional security guard; worked to increase substitute coverage; implemented a no cell phone policy; increased the “Social Emotional lessons;” and secured private funds for “a reimagined and restructured outdoor space.”

Numerous parents, however, have told Mission Local that they have not noticed these policy changes. They added that their queries of the district or site administration have not been addressed, or that the responses they did receive have been banal, defensive or lacked detail. And the district hasn’t begun to quell staff’s fears and concerns.

“I think it’s impossible for anyone to claim that the district’s response to our staff’s demand for immediate onsite support at Everett has been anywhere near enough,” summed up Cris Garza, a literacy coach and the school’s union building representative.

“To claim otherwise is merely an attempt to minimize the media fallout and continue to avoid solving the very real crises we’ve been experiencing on a daily basis. This is not to say that they have done nothing — some district staff have been sent here for limited amounts of time and it’s been quite helpful to have them with us. But I think it’s fair to say that their response to our plea for help has been inadequate at best and complicit at worst,” Garza said.

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