Robb Elementary School Principal Suspended by Uvalde School District

Mandy Gutierrez is the first school official to be suspended following a state review of the May shooting

The principal of the elementary school where 21 people died in May has been placed on administrative leave by the school district in Texas.

Robb Elementary School Principal Mandy Gutierrez was placed on leave with pay by the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent on July 25. 

According to AP News, Gutierrez and another school staff member have been scrutinized for knowing the classroom where 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos killed the victims had an inoperable lock but failed to have it repaired.

Gutierrez’s attorney confirmed the suspension to ABC News, noting that he plans to respond to questions posed by the superintendent in the near future.

Ramos killed 19 students and two teachers after entering the school on May 24. Law enforcement, including the local sheriff’s office, has been widely berated for failing to act during the crisis.

Despite the arrival of over 370 policemen and other law enforcement, officers waited to enter the building while Ramos fired over 100 rounds. Newly released body-camera footage shows officers outside the classroom while shots can be heard inside.

In early June, United States Attorney General Merrick Garland announced he has assembled a nine-person team to review law enforcement’s conduct and decisions during the school shooting. The review is not part of a criminal investigation. The Justice Department will examine “police policies, training and communication, along with the deployment of officers and tactics” as well as “who was in command of the incident and how police prepared for potential active-shooter incidents.”

The Texas House of Representatives Investigative Committee released a 77-page report on July 18 reviewing the Uvalde shooting, noting that there while no one acted with “malice or ill motives” there had been “systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making” and law enforcement who responded to the school.

The committee’s report also found that “Gutierrez never attempted to use the school’s intercom system to warn teachers and students that a gunman had entered the school. She told the committee that she used an app called Raptor to initiate a lockdown, ‘but she had difficulty making the alert because of a bad wifi signal,'” per the Texas Tribune.

The chief of the school district’s police department, Peter Arredondo, has been placed on unpaid leave and may be terminated by the board. Uvalde police Lieutenant Mariano Pargas has also been suspended following the report’s publication.

The school district’s board voted on July 25 to delay the start of the upcoming school year by three weeks, setting its start date as Sept. 6. The additional time will be used to improve security and prepare emotional support resources for students.

New security measures could include creating a single point of entry for the school and installing new, eight-feet high fences that are designed to be unclimbable. The school board is also considering hiring 10 additional police officers and installing metal detectors at every school.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin announced on June 22 that the school would be demolished although a date had not yet been set.

“You can never ask a child to go back or a teacher to go back in that school ever,” McLaughlin said during a council meeting.

“I would never ask, expect a child to ever have to walk in those doors ever, ever again. That building needs to be gone,” he later said to KXAS-TV.

District Superintendent Hal Harrell also presented a resolution to call on Texas Governor Greg Abbott to take action against semi-automatic weapons. The Robb Elementary School shooter used an AR-15. Harrell’s resolution requests Abbott call a special session of the state’s legislature to raise the minimum age of purchase for a semi-automatic weapon from 18 to 21.

“A tragedy occurred in our community at Robb School, taking the lives of 19 students and teachers with a rifle that an 18-year-old could walk in and purchase,” Harrell said during the July 25 meeting, per Texas Public Radio. “There’s no reason for an 18-year-old to have something like that.”

The school board unanimously passed the resolution.

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