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Protest Greets San Rafael Elementary ‘Counseling’ Meeting

Parents rail against longtime principal; say recent incident is ‘part of a pattern of divisive, abusive behavior.’

Published on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 | 6:18 am

Angry San Rafael Elementary School parents and students protested outside the Blair High School Tuesday evening prior to a confidential counseling session for parents from which media were barred. [Eddie Rivera / Pasadena Now]
[UPDATED] Angry San Rafael Elementary School parents and students protested outside the Blair High School Tuesday evening before what was billed by Pasadena Unified as a “confidential session with counselors and professional facilitators recommended by the Community Clergy Coalition” for parents about an incident involving police, a school custodian and Principal Rudy Ramirez last month.

On August 14, Pasadena Police,  responding to a citizen call, stopped and handcuffed an on-duty custodian working on the San Rafael campus as they searched for a possible intruder. After determining that the custodian was a PUSD employee working overtime, the police let him go.

Arriving at the campus following the incident, Ramirez was seen and heard on a widely-distributed security officer’s body cam video profanely railing against police, school neighbors and some community members.

Ramirez later apologized.  

Pasadena Unified Superintendent Brian McDonald temporarily installed an Acting Principal at the school and announced Principal Ramirez would return in the “near future.”

Since then, a group of parents who have been critical of Ramirez since long before the Aug. 14 incident have ratcheted up their criticism of the principal’s leadership, accusing him of “a pattern of divisive, abusive behavior.”

Ramirez is now due to return to the San Rafael campus on Wednesday, September 21.

At Tuesday’s protest, former San Rafael parent Patricia Jimenez said she removed her child from the school based on Principal Ramirez’s conduct. 

“I am here today because our concerns have not been heard, and the school community has tried to shut down all of us who have tried to share some of his misconduct.”

Jimenez pointed to Ramirez’s “intimidation, his harassment, especially of mothers at the school. They don’t want to hear from us, and we are ready to be heard.”

In a statement distributed before the District-sanctioned counseling session, a group calling itself “Concerned SRE Parents” said “The recent video of his racist and misogynist outburst is one of many documented outbursts over the past five years that have harmed many families in the SRE community. These are the voices and experiences that now need to be heard.” 

The statement continued, “While many have had positive interactions with Principal Ramirez, others have had an opposite experience. These negative experiences have caused many to leave the school, or suffer in silence or be ostracized.”

Following the protest, more than 200 parents filled the Blair High School cafeteria for the parents’ meeting,  which was not open to the media. 

Jimenez claimed that during the meeting, filled-out question cards from parents for Pasadena School Superintendent Dr. Brian McDonald were selectively chosen and that few cards with critical questions were presented. 

Principal Ramirez was reportedly present at the meeting but not available for comment.

PUSD did not respond to questions about the meeting from Pasadena Now as of the filing of this story.

The District had said in a press release prior to Tuesday’s 6 p.m. meeting that “after the events of last month, it is time for the San Rafael Elementary School community to heal and move forward, and this begins with a dialogue to process what occurred and its impact on the school.” 

“The first step in this process is to facilitate a conversation between the principal and those who have been adversely affected by recent events,” the statement continued. 

“The hope is that through open and honest dialogue, healing can begin.”

The statement concluded, “The next step will be convening a neighborhood meeting with the broader San Rafael community so all voices can be heard.  We will be asking the West Pasadena Residents Association to assist us in this second endeavor.”

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