An elementary school principal in one of San Diego’s wealthiest communities has apologized after being busted for sending out an email warning parents about a black man spotted at a nearby Starbucks.
According to the Union-Tribune, La Jolla Elementary principal Donna Tripi sent the email last month which created a firestorm of complaints leading her to hold a “support all families” forum earlier this week.
The report states that Tripi sent the email describing a man she claims stared at and followed one parent’s daughter at the Starbucks. In her email, she wrote the man was an “an African American male about 30 years old, about 6’1”-6’2”, dressed in all black and a hooded sweatshirt.”
She also included security tips “to keep your children safe,” and suggested calling the police “if you see something that doesn’t feel right.”
“We’re all hoping it was an isolated incident,” the email concluded, “but reminders are always helpful.”
Tripi this week sent another email apologizing for her actions.
“My email was a mistake. While it is critical to keep our school family safe, the way I communicated didn’t provide enough specifics to identify the individual, but could easily lead to unnecessary and harmful reactions against other members of our community,” Tripi wrote. “African American males continue to face discrimination in our society every day. The thought that I unintentionally contributed to that climate with a vague email is something for which I owe our community an apology.”
Tripi’s apology did not calm the waters with André Branch, president of the San Diego Branch of the NAACP.
“This apology is as disturbing as the original email. She repeats the description of the man, mentioning his race, but not that of the parents or the children. This repetition reinforces the idea that the parents and their children have something to fear from African-American men,” he said. “They have no more to fear from African-American males than they do from white males in hoodies or white males in suits and ties. If their concern had nothing to do with this man’s race, it would not have been mentioned.”
According to the Union-Tribune, La Jolla Elementary has an enrollment of 535 students and, as of last fall, only five were black. Last year the school did not employ any black teachers, with 28 out of 31 listed as white.