Palo Alto police are investigating the vandalism of an outdoor sign at El Carmelo Elementary School with a racial epithet over the weekend as a hate crime.
School officials contacted police on Monday to report that a sign on the campus had been vandalized. An unknown suspect wrote "a racial epithet directed at Black people" on the sign and crossed out a cartoon image depicting two nonwhite children, according to a press release from the Palo Alto Police Department. El Carmelo is located at 3024 Bryant St. near Loma Verde Avenue.
School officials removed the sign when the graffiti was discovered, police said. The vandalism is believed to have occurred between Saturday and Monday, according to police.
In an email to families, El Carmelo Principal Aleyda Barrera-Cruz wrote that the school is working with Palo Alto Unified School District leadership and police to investigate the vandalism and what can be done to prevent future similar events.
"Our school is committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all our students," Barrera-Cruz wrote. "We believe that diversity, equity and inclusion are at the core of the work that we do for our students and we are proud of it."
There have not been any similar incidents recently at Palo Alto schools, police said. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the police department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via call or text to 650-383-8984.