WHITTIER (CBSLA.com) — Police Tuesday said students at a Catholic school in Whittier are not in danger because of the principal’s stalker despite safety concerns raised by a former teacher.
Joanne Saldana, a first grade instructor who recently resigned from St. Bruno Catholic School, sent out a mass email to parents that informed them of a man who has been stalking Principal Catherine Carvalho for a number of years.
“The principal has had a deranged man stalking her for many years and has followed her to St. Bruno School,” Saldana wrote in an email. “He has left packages on the fronts steps, been in the parish center, called the school on numerous occasions and sent things to the school through the mail. Two of his latest communications have mentioned death.”
Authorities said Carvalho filed a complaint in October against Ronald Martinez, a former high school classmate she has known for 35 years.
He showed up at the K-8 school, left packages on campus, and sent emails.
“There was nothing to suggest there were any death threats… there wasn’t any violence in those threats. There was an extreme sense of uncomfortable-ness by the principal with this person’s overt gestures toward her,” said Lt. Kent Miller from the Whittier Police Department.
Martinez was arrested, convicted of stalking, and released from jail after one day for time served.
The man, who lives out of the state, is now under a restraining order after Carvalho’s previous one against him expired.
Miller said parents of St. Bruno students weren’t notified about Martinez because their kids were not at risk.
“Parents are alerted if there’s some kind of threat to the students or the parents. In this case, nothing in our investigation said anything…led to the students or the parents,” said Miller.
On Tuesday night, parents met with police, St. Bruno officials and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to talk about the situation.
School and church officials admitted they should have informed people about the on-going investigation, but felt like there was no imminent threat or danger to the campus or the students.
Meantime, St. Bruno officials said Saldana had some kind of disagreement with administrators and was asked to leave immediately before she resigned and sent out the email.
“This disgruntled teacher decided that she was going to send out an email with a lot of falsehood in it,” said school board member Carl Hecht.
Saldana’s sister said the former teacher sent the email because she couldn’t live with the guilt if something happened to the kids.
“If something were to happen, and the guy came on campus and starting shooting the kids because he couldn’t get to the (principal), she said she would never be able to live with herself,” she said.
Saldana issued this statement through her attorney:
“There is no dispute that the stalker exists and is targeting the school’s principal. Action by the school to discredit her as a disgruntled employee is sickening and disheartening, and demonstrates a total disregard for the safety and well-being of the young children who attend St. Bruno School.”