The MS-13 gang has been linked to a number of violent crimes in the Riverdale, Maryland area, including the murder of a 14-year-old girl. In response to this and other gang activity, the school district has implemented a number of programs and policies aimed at reducing gang activity and preventing students from joining gangs. Some of the programs and policies that have been implemented include:

  • Providing information to students and parents about the dangers of gangs and gang activity
  • Working with local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute gang-related crimes 
  • Suspending or expelling students who are involved in gang activity 
  • Providing counseling and other support services to at-risk students 
  • These programs and policies have been effective in reducing gang activity at Wirt Middle School and in the surrounding community.

The SARA model stands for Scanning, Analysis, Response, and Assessment.

Below are five implementation ideas for addressing gang activities at Wirt Middle School in Riverdale, Maryland: 

1. Scanning: Establish a system for monitoring and tracking gang activity in the school and community. This could include things like setting up a tip line for students and parents to report gang activity, monitoring social media for gang-related activity, and working with law enforcement to track gang activity in the area. 

2. Analysis: Analyze the data collected from the scanning process to identify patterns and trends in gang activity. This could involve things like mapping out where gang activity is occurring, identifying who is involved in gang activity, and determining what types of gang activity are taking place.

 3. Response: Develop and implement strategies for addressing gang activity based on the analysis. This could include things like increasing security at the school, providing counseling and support services for students involved in gang activity, and working with law enforcement to investigate and prosecute gang-related crimes.

 4. Assessment: Evaluate the effectiveness of the response strategies and make adjustments as needed. This could involve things like conducting surveys of students and parents to gauge the level of gang activity, tracking changes in gang activity over time, and comparing data from different schools to identify best practices.

5. Prevention: Develop and implement strategies for preventing gang activity from occurring in the first place. This could include things like providing after-school programs and extracurricular activities for students, working with parents and guardians to support their children, and raising awareness about the dangers of gangs in the community.


Case Study 5.2: MS-13 at Wirt Middle School in Riverdale, Maryland

According to teachers, parents, and students, gang-related fights are a daily occurrence at William Wirt Middle School in Riverdale, Prince George’s County, Maryland. The school, which is only 10 miles from the White House, has mostly Hispanic students and a small number of them are MS-13 members. Even though there may only be about a dozen MS-13 members, they have become a major force, throwing gang signs, spraying gang signs on the walls with graffiti, selling drugs, and aggressively pursuing students to join the gang. They are also violent, bringing weapons to school and intimidating teachers and students alike. Many of the students at the school immigrated from Central American countries, often countries where gangs, such as MS-13, cause much violence. According to reports, teachers who report gang activity are being ignored by administrators. Parents have also voiced their concerns about the pressure asserted on their kids by MS-13 members attending the school. “Teachers feel threatened but aren’t backed up. Students feel threatened but aren’t protected,” one educator said. “The school is a ticking time bomb.” Several teachers reported having been threatened and even sexually harassed. They are afraid that MS-13 members could follow them home and harm them or their families. The school, however, denies the ongoing gang activity and has been ignoring the problems reported by teachers, parents, and students. “The principal is aware of concerns about gangs in the community, but has not experienced any problems in school,” John White, a spokesman for the county school system, wrote in an email. During the 2017–18 school year, police were called to the school 74 times, and five students were arrested for bringing weapons to school, selling drugs, and assaulting other students. A number of students have apparently banded together to fight the influence of the MS-13 members. This, of course, has resulted in a sort of arms race and more violence and fear. One father stated, “If someone doesn’t do something soon, there is going to be a tragedy at that school.”

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