On Wednesday, May 6, at approximately 5:15 p.m., a teacher at Canalino Elementary School called Principal Jaime Persoon to report that a fire had been started below a window that had been pushed in. The teacher had come to campus to work, and the fire alarm went off as she entered the gate. She doused the fire—which had been started on a pile of artwork in her classroom—with a trash can of water.

In a letter to Canalino parents, Persoon wrote that “likely the offenders jumped the fence probably near the ECLC parking lot.” The gate in wing four nearest the playground had been pushed open, the principal added, and “the teacher entered her room, saw and smelled the smoke, and threw a trash can of water on the fire, and put it out. A hero!”

Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District and Sheriff’s Deputies responded. Fire personnel checked the campus, including trash cans. Superintendent Rigby, and CUSD staff members arrived, as well as two fire investigators, and the fire marshal. Sheriff’s Deputies also made an incident report and took a palm and four fingerprints from the window where it was pushed in. The fingerprints will be run against a database.

“Good news: Our fire alarms work,” Principal Persoon noted, “and the fire department arrived as I was calling 911 as soon as I got there… The alarm system even communicated to the fire department exactly which room to go to.”

A parent had emailed Persoon the previous week that some teenage skateboarders had jumped the fences by the ECLC and were making lots of noise. The principal notified the facilities director, who inspected the area and found that someone had knocked down the construction fences and were skating around in that area.

“With students not in school, and lots of idle time, unfortunately, this leads to vandalism and poor choices,” Persoon wrote, and laid out a plan moving forward: Facilities (staff) will be working on installing hardware on the windows to prevent them from being pushed in; Sheriffs have agreed to do multiple drive-bys and even park in the lots during the evening and overnight hours; the principal will do evening inspections and custodians will double check that all gates are locked.

“If you are in the area and see anything strange or suspicious, please let me know,” the principal said. “If you hear anything from your kids about videos posted to social media about this incident or any other vandalism, please let me know right away. You can reach us at (805) 220-8836.”


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