As we reported in January 2023, an assistant principal at Mount Pleasant High School in Providence Public Schools sent an email that asked teachers to help raise $2,000 for a student who was smuggled illegally into the United States by a coyote. Coyotes are smugglers often involved with cartels who illegally bring people across the southern border for large fees. The assistant principal stated in the email:
We have a student who came to America with “Coyote”, which is a group that helps people. This group gives you a time frame to make a payment of $5000 dollars to those, who bring them into the states.
Our student needs our urgent support to raise another $2000 to meet his goal of $5000 by February 1st, 2023.
Within twenty-four hours the school principal had sent an email to tell her staff that “the nature of the request is not appropriate.”
The Providence Schools, which are currently under state control, also put out a statement a few days later in response to media requests:
PDE has also obtained an email from a few weeks earlier dated January 6 that appears to show that the assistant principal did, in fact, know what a “coyote” is and had more specific information about the student’s situation. A staff member listed on Mount Pleasant High School’s website as a “guidance counselor” explained in the email from January 6 that “we have a student who came to America with ‘Coyote.'” She then continued with more details and acknowledged that the student’s family was in danger:
When they come illegal, they usually give them a time frame to make a payment of $5000 dollors to those, who bring them illegal. Our student has been working extra hours to pay them and to support his family in Guatemala. Not ignoring that this kid lives here by himself and has no support from anyone. He only owes $2000 out of the $5000, but if he does not pay that by February 1, they will kill his family in his country. He works so hard and does not sleep trying to get that money together, but he is so stressed out. We want to reach out to everyone to ask for help. IF we can get people to donate whatever you guys can to help him out with this debt that will be great. He comes late some time because he works until late but we don’t want him to drop out of school. We want to support him with anything that we can.
Twenty days later the assistant principal proceeded to send an email via the school listserv asking for money to help pay off the debt.
We do not see anything in the documents to indicate that law enforcement was ever contacted.
PDE also received an email dated January 31 from school board member Ty’Relle Stephens that appeared to claim angry members of the community were “right-wing extremists.” He also discussed how he would try to “control the narrative.” He stated in the email:
I am writing to follow up about PR damage control regarding the Coyote email. The media has portrayed PPSD staff as knowingly aiding and abetting human traffickers, which has incensed right-wing extremists. At this time, if we are able to say unequivocally that that is not the case, let’s make it happen. If we are able to say PPSD staff need more training surrounding illegal immigration, let’s make it happen.
The Tucker Carlson Tonight talk show and other news media has reached out to me as you can see below. I have declined to comment because I’m waiting for RIDE/PPSD to draft a response to control the narrative. But I’m getting tired of PPSD always in the news for all the wrong reasons. What can we do to turn things around? Please advise.
Despite the board member’s comments, some staff of the school did appear to know that paying off the student’s debt was abetting human traffickers, according to the guidance counselor’s email.
The assistant principal is currently listed as a high school assistant principal on the Providence Schools website but has been removed from the Mount Pleasant High School website.
Here is the administrative team listed on the school website on December 29, 2022:
And here is the administrative team listed on the school website now: