Uvalde parents meet with superintendent after nearly 50-hour protest outside district

Just after 5 p.m., UCISD installed a traffic gate outside of its administration building

Parents block entrance at Uvalde CISD headquarters demanding action against district officers

A guardian of a Robb Elementary student who died in the May 24 shooting met with the Uvalde CISD superintendent after a nearly 50-hour protest — but he said he still hasn’t received the answers he’s looking for.

Brett Cross, the guardian of Uziyah Garcia, has remained defiant outside district headquarters, demanding that UCISD Superintendent Hal Harrell suspend the district officers who stood in the hallway for 77 minutes during the massacre.

He was joined by his wife, Nikki, and other relatives of victims including Gloria Cazares, the mother of Jackie Cazares, and Berlinda Arreola, the grandmother of Amerie Garza.

Their protest started on Tuesday morning, where they camped out, broadcasted audio of their children, and projected home videos on the side of a building.

In a Twitter post on Thursday morning, Brett Cross livestreamed a meeting with Harrell inside his office.

Brett Cross had one main question: “Why will you not suspend the officers pending the investigation?”

The superintendent said the investigation is ongoing and an audit will be conducted this week. The five officers need to remain in the district for safety reasons, Harrell said.

“We still have things they need to do within the district,” Harrell said, like responding to incidents and patrolling the campuses.

He added that the officers need to be present during the audit to answer questions.

At an August school board meeting, Harrell said that James McLaughlin has been tapped to audit and evaluate UCISD police. McLaughlin will be on district campuses conducting that audit on Thursday and Friday, according to Harrell. The city hired Jesse Prado, a former Austin Police Department detective, to conduct an independent internal investigation into the officers’ actions that day.

Since the massacre that claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers, the district has only terminated then-district police chief Pete Arredondo, Harrell said.

Brett Cross reiterated that he believes the officers should have been suspended, at least during the summer, and that the district failed to take accountability.

“We’ve given you 18 weeks. When we do school board meetings y’all just sit there with blank faces on and everything,” Cross said. “It is up to you to make sure that those doors are locked, because you keep your doors locked at night, right? You take care of you and yours? The kids should have been you and yours as well, but they weren’t.”

Before ending the stream, Brett Cross said “we will still be here.”

Just after 5 p.m. Thursday, Brett Cross then shared on Twitter a video that shows a UCISD employee putting up a traffic gate outside of the school administration building to limit how many people can join the families waiting outside.

UCISD issued this statement to KSAT on Wednesday afternoon that states “we do not have an expected completion date for the reviews.”

“While we will continue attempts to meet with individuals to address their concerns, our focus remains on supporting our students, staff, and families throughout the recovery process. We are encouraged by the positive start to the school year and appreciate all the support our UCISD family continues to receive,” a portion of the statement read.

On Wednesday, UCISD canceled a town hall meeting that had been scheduled for next week.

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About the Authors:

Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.