Focus in Uvalde Shooting Shifts to School Officials with Suspension of Principal
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District officials suspended the principal of Robb Elementary School two months after the mass shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead. Reports indicate school employees ignored many safety protocols that could have prevented the shooter from gaining access to the school and the classroom where the slaughter took place.
Uvalde School District Superintendent Hal Harrell and an attorney for Robb Elementary School Principal Mandy Gutierrez told Fox News the district placed the principal on paid administrative leave on Monday. Gutierrez is the second school employee to be placed on leave — Police Chief Pete Arredondo was the first.
In a 77-page investigative report released by the Texas House of Representatives, the committee reported “systematic failures and egregiously poor decision making” that contributed to the deaths of 21 people on May 24, Breitbart Texas reported.
Fox News cited the report with the following:
“The school’s five-foot tall exterior fence was inadequate to meaningfully impede an intruder. While the school had adopted security policies to lock exterior doors and internal classroom doors, there was a regrettable culture of noncompliance by school personnel who frequently propped doors open and deliberately circumvented locks,” according to the report. “At a minimum, school administrators and school district police tacitly condoned this behavior as they were aware of these unsafe practices and did not treat them as serious infractions requiring immediate correction.”
“In fact, the school actually suggested circumventing the locks as a solution for the convenience of substitute teachers and others who lacked their own keys,” the report added.
Fox News added that Principal Gutierrez and her assistant principal knew about the problems regarding the inability to lock the classroom door due to the maintenance issue at about the time of Spring Break. The report states a work order was never filed to have the lock repaired.
Texas State Representatives Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) and Joe Moody (D-El Paso) along with former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman led the investigation and released the 77-page report on July 17 in Uvalde.
In addition to the law enforcement response, the report details the actions of school officials that contributed to the shooter being able to easily access the building and the classroom. It also goes into the background of the shooter and indications of his potential to carry out the attack on May 24.
During testimony from Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw before the Texas Senate in June, the director stated that the south and west doors were placed into an unlocked setting, State Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) told Breitbart Texas. The doors were routinely left unlocked in direct violation of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s school safety directive, he related.
The director also testified that the door to classroom 112 (one of two classrooms where the shooting took place) could not be locked because the steel plate on the frame did not line up with the door’s bolt mechanism. DPS investigators verified that teacher Arnulfo Reyes previously reported the maintenance issue.
In addition to the unlocked and unlockable doors, Senator Bettencourt told Breitbart that there are multiple breaches in the fencing. Instead of repairing the gaps, the district strung rope. The fence is also only four feet tall–allowing the shooter to easily enter the school perimeter.
The Uvalde School Preventative Security Measures policy document states:
11: PERIMETER FENCING – Dalton, Anthon, and Robb have fencing that encloses the campus is designed to limit and/or restrict access to individuals without a need to be on the campus.
17: LOCKED CLASSROOM DOOR POLICY – Teachers are instructed to keep their classroom doors closed and locked at all times. Barriers are not to be used.
Principal Gutierres is the first non-law enforcement school official to face suspension following the May shooting at Robb Elementary School.
The Texas House report also stated that Gutierrez failed to use the school’s intercom system to initiate a lockdown and warning as the shooting began outside the building. She attempted to initiate the lockdown through a school district app but a bad Wi-Fi signal prevented this safety measure.