UVALDE, Texas – A special school board meeting held by Uvalde CISD on Monday had an open forum for community members to speak freely and ask questions to board members.
The @Uvalde_CISD special board meeting is starting now. This is an open forum meeting. pic.twitter.com/o7EWFQJESX— Leigh Waldman (@LeighWaldman) August 8, 2022
Parents, community members weigh in, call for accountability
Much of the discussion during the hours-long board meeting centered around the termination of two district employees: Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo and former Robb Elementary principal Mandy Gutierrez.
“Mandy, you brought her back? Adam will not attend this school until she is removed,” said Anson Bills, a father of three.
Bills said his youngest child, Adam, has special needs and attended Robb Elementary last year. He says, thankfully, Adam was not at school when a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers on May 24.
“They took the principal and put her in the special education department -- no,” Bills said.
Bills said he would send Adam to a different school for the upcoming year.
The calls for the firing didn’t stop with Gutierrez. Speakers and audience members demanded Pete Arredondo be fired Monday evening.
Adam Martinez asked the district to do the right thing.
“Everybody knows that. That’s what we’re expecting from y’all -- to do the right thing. If it costs you or whatever it costs, you’re going to earn our respect by doing that,” Martinez said.
Dr. Hal Harrell, the Uvalde CISD superintendent, said the district has offered Arredondo three additional dates for the termination hearing, and they’re waiting to hear back. He explained the board could not decide Monday evening to fire Arredondo but recognized that action needed to be taken soon.
“We’ve got to get this moving forward. We can’t keep knocking the ball down the road,” Harrell said.
August 8, 2022
Security enhancements at Uvalde CISD
At the beginning of the school board meeting, Harrell explained how the district had spent $4.5 million on security changes so far.
Harrell explained that fencing is being placed at Dalton Elementary. That fencing is also being installed at Benson, Batesville, USLA, Flores, MJH, and UHS campuses.
Next year there will also be 33 Texas DPS troopers on the Uvalde CISD campuses. There will be six at MJH & UHS; four at Dalton, UDKA, Benson, Flores, and Batesville; and one at Crossroads.
At this point, 500 cameras have been ordered, and Sentry Security has installed just over 100 on campuses. Those cameras will be actively monitored, officials said.
Uvalde CISD is currently searching for an interim police chief. Four out-of-town officers have been recommended at this point.
The district would also like to hire campus monitors, one per campus, to walk continuously throughout the day, checking doors and gates, among performing other security measures.
The campuses will also have secure vestibules and entrances for parents and visitors to have a designated point of entry.
A fourth grader named Kaitlyn Gonzales, who will attend Flores Elementary, is asking for even more changes.
“Ballistic film glass that could save a lot of lives. It can contact the law enforcement, and it could save people from getting shot with bullets,” Gonzales said.
Harrell said there would also be extensive counseling support for students, staff, and families. Counselors will be present at all campuses and for the first few weeks of school. There will also be comfort dogs.
Right now, the district is conducting specialized staff training.
“Beginning today and tomorrow, as well, elementary campuses began their training with Bounce Back, which is an evidence-based intervention training,” Harrell said.
You can read more about the status of the district’s projects online and find other resources for parents.
The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for Aug. 28.