The Diocese of Oakland in California has announced that at the end of the school year it will close two private Catholic schools in the east San Francisco Bay area amid concerns about security and the presence of human trafficking activity in the vicinity.

According to an investigative report by ABC 7 News, parents at St. Anthony Catholic School, part of Lumen Christi Academies, were informed of the decision two weeks ago by email.

In addition to security issues, the Diocese of Oakland’s email stated that the reasons for the closing of the schools also include financial problems as well as outside factors such as homelessness, unemployment, a shortage of affordable housing, and the presence of human trafficking activity near the school.

More than a year ago, the ABC7 News investigative team reported the existence of human trafficking activity in the area in a video showing apparent sex workers and pimps loitering near the school, which led the FBI to install surveillance cameras and traffic barriers in streets near the school.

In November 2023, Operation Phoenix, a large-scale operation conducted by various law enforcement agencies, dismantled an alleged human trafficking ring spanning several cities in the San Francisco Bay area.

Months earlier, in Operation Cross Country, local police rescued 200 trafficking victims and located 59 minors who were also victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation.

According to the most recent report from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, during 2021 more than 5,200 alerts of possible cases were recorded in California, which topped the list with approximately 10% of the total.

In addition to St. Anthony Catholic School, the Diocese of Oakland confirmed that Our Lady of Guadalupe School in the bay city of Fremont will close its doors on June 6.

In an official statement, the diocese explained that the school run by the Dominican Sisters of Mission San José will close due to a “drastic decrease in enrollment” and a “reduction in reserve funds,” factors that made the continued operation of the school unsustainable.

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This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.