Uvalde school district releases limited plans for school assignments, security
Uvalde school officials on Thursday provided few updates to a community that continues to seek answers in the aftermath of last month’s school shooting.
During the brief, 15-minute news conference, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell provided information about campus reconfiguration for the upcoming school year, but did not answer questions related to district police Chief Pete Arredondo.
Next year’s students who would have attended Robb Elementary School, where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers on May 24, will instead go to two other campuses in the district. Incoming 2nd graders will stay at Dalton Elementary, and 3rd through 6th grade will move to Flores Elementary, he said.
But Harrell declined to discuss whether Arredondo, who was the incident commander during the shooting, is still employed. Arredondo has been widely criticized for his decision to not have officers immediately engage the gunman but instead wait for additional gear and more personnel.
“That's a personnel question,” he said. “I am not able to answer that in a public forum."
The shooter was inside the school for more than an hour as children called 911 from the classrooms where the shootings took place. Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said there was “no excuse” to make that call.
“With the benefit of hindsight, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. There’s no excuse for that,” McCraw said three days after the shooting.
Harrell said the district has assigned police officers to campuses during the summer months and will hire more for the fall semester.
Harrell also declined to provide information on whether doors at schools activate automatically. It was initially reported that the gunman, who has been identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, entered the school through a door a teacher left propped open. But authorities later clarified the door was shut but did not lock.
Harrell said the district hired a consulting firm to perform an assessment of school buildings before the shooting but it’s unclear if there was a focus on entry ways and locks.
“We have worked with an architectural firm, I wouldn't really call it specifically for safety and security. But we have worked with an architectural firm. That is part of what we looked at,” he said.
The district is also considering what to do with Robb Elementary School once the investigation is complete and will seek community input for ideas.
“We will not be going back to that campus in any form or fashion,” he said.
The district will continue to provide weekly updates once more information is available, the superintendent added.
“We recognize families and staff have questions that we do not have answers to yet,” Harrell said.