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Uvalde school principal placed on administrative leave as parents demand accountability

Uvalde school principal placed on administrative leave as parents demand accountability

Robb Elementary School principal Mandy Gutierrez was placed on administrative leave Monday, her attorney said.

Gutierrez was suspended with pay after a special legislative investigation into the May 24 massacre of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, found that she was aware of security problems at the school prior to the shooting but had failed to address them, ABC News reported.

Her attorney, Ricardo Cedillo, did not give a reason for her suspension in a "terse" statement to the Associated Press.

School district officials have also declined to comment on the suspension.

A report by the Texas state House found that among numerous "systemic failures," Robb Elementary School had a recurring problem with maintaining locks and doors. Amid questions regarding whether properly locked doors would have prevented the shooter from entering the building or classrooms, the report found there was a "culture of noncompliance" for locked doors "which turned out to be fatal."

The door the shooter used to get inside the building wasn't locked, and the door to one of the classrooms he entered was probably not locked, the report said. Gutierrez and at least two other school employees had known the lock wasn't working properly, but no work order was ever placed to fix it.

Gutierrez's suspension follows that of school district police chief Pete Arredondo, who was placed on unpaid administrative leave in June. The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District has recommended that Arredondo be fired.

Arredondo has been blamed for the failed police response to the shooting. He was incident commander while the gunman shot up a classroom but failed to follow standard police protocol, resulting in children and teachers dying while officers who were equipped to storm the classroom waited outside instead.

The district school board met Monday and approved a three-week postponement to the start of the 2022-2023 school year until Sept. 6 so that officials could improve school security and provide emotional and support services to students, ABC News reported.

Family members of the victims went to the school board meeting and complained that district officials are continuing to be unresponsive and have not held anyone accountable for their failures.

Brett Cross, whose daughter Uziyah Garcia was murdered in the massacre, told board members that only one of those present had reached out to his family, according to ABC News.

"You care more about your damn selves than you do for our children," Cross said, demanding that someone on the board take responsibility for the failures. "Why have y'all still not taken accountability for y'all's mess-ups? Can any one of y'all look me dead in the eyes and say, 'Look, we messed up?'"

Eventually, board member Luis Fernandez admitted that "everybody messed up."

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