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Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School Principal Mandy Gutierrez reinstated days after suspension

U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden travel to Uvalde, Texas
JONATHAN ERNST
/
REUTERS
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks with Mandy Gutierrez, Principal at Robb Elementary School, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in the deadliest U.S. school shooting in nearly a decade, during U.S. President Joe Biden's visit at the school, in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 29, 2022.

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The principal of Robb Elementary School, where 19 children and two teachers were shot to death in May, has been reinstated to her position after being suspended earlier this week.

Mandy Gutierrez was suspended with pay Monday after a report on the shooting from a Texas House subcommittee highlighted issues with Gutierrez’s performance. They include a claim that she knew the lock for the classroom where the gunman killed most of his victims wasn't working properly, but no one prepared a work order to have it fixed.

Gutierrez told CNN that isn’t true.

“What I know for a fact is the door to room 111 did in fact lock. The teacher has to use a key to enter,” she said.

Gutierrez said she followed the training she was provided to the best of her abilities, adding that she would second guess herself for the rest of her life.

Gutierrez’s lawyer, Ricardo Cedillo, shared a letter with TPR that Gutierrez received from the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell.

The letter states that after reviewing Gutierrez’s response to the state House report’s claims, she is being allowed to return to work effective immediately.

The official narrative of what happened on the day of the shooting has shifted many times over the past two months as calls for accountability continue to grow among victims' families.

Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo remains on administrative leave. State officials have placed the blame on his shoulders but the legislative report outlined “systemic failures and egregious poor decision making” among local, state, and federal officers who waited more than an hour to breach the classroom and confront the gunman.

The city of Uvalde is also conducting an internal investigation and has placed Lt. Mariano Pargas, Uvalde's acting chief of police on the day of the shooting, on administrative leave. The city is investigating whether Pargas could have done more or whether that was even possible with all the different agencies involved.

When asked about law enforcement’s delay in confronting the gunman, Gutierrez told CNN she wasn’t in a position to blame anyone.

“I’m not law enforcement and I cannot pass judgment and tell them how to do their jobs, just like I would not ask them to tell me how to do mine,” she said.

Gutierrez said she did place blame on some things out of her control, like the easy accessibility of high powered guns in Texas.

“I don’t make the laws. So I don’t get to decide how old you have to be to purchase a firearm. I don’t get to decide how many rounds of ammunition somebody can purchase,” she said.

The Uvalde CISD school board as well as Uvalde's city council and county commissioners all passed resolutions urging Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session to raise the minimum age at which a person can buy a semi-automatic weapon — like the AR-15 used in the Robb Elementary shooting — from 18 to 21.

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Bonnie Petrie can be reached at Bonnie@TPR.org and on Twitter at @kbonniepetrie
As TPR's news director, Katz leads the organization’s news and journalism efforts, overseeing the newsroom’s day-to-day management and the development of a strategic vision for the news division. He also serves on the organization’s executive leadership team.