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Robb Elementary principal pushes back on Texas lawmakers’ report on shooting

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Robb Elementary School principal Mandy Gutierrez is pushing back on several claims made in a recent report from Texas lawmakers that was highly critical of both law enforcement and the Uvalde school district administration’s response to the shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers. Gutierrez was placed on administrative leave with pay this week.

In a letter written to the committee that is investigating the shooting, Gutierrez denied that the door lock for classroom 111, one of the rooms where the shooting took place, was faulty and that no steps were taken to fix it, as the report on the shooting alleged.

“In particular, staff and students widely knew the door to one of the victimized classrooms, Room 111, was ordinarily unsecured and accessible,” the report said. “Room 111 could be locked, but an extra effort was required to make sure the latch engaged. Many knew Room 111’s door had a faulty lock, and school district police had specifically warned the teacher about it. The problem with locking the door had been reported to school administration, yet no one placed a written work order for a repair.”

But Gutierrez claimed in her letter that the lock was functioning properly the morning of the shooting, saying that a custodian ensures all classroom doors are locked every night and, therefore, the only way for the teacher in room 111 to have gotten in the next morning would have been to unlock it.

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Gutierrez also wrote that the teacher in that classroom — who was severely wounded in the shooting, according to Gutierrez —had complained on several occasions that their day was interrupted because they would have to let other teachers into the room to retrieve items from a printer that multiple classrooms shared but was physically kept in room 111. 

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Gutierrez acknowledges that the shooter gained access to room 111 but said it would be “inaccurate to conclude that it was because the door to classroom 111 did not lock.” 

“The teacher in charge of Room 111 seems to recall that he complained about the door not locking to me for the last 3 years,” Gutierrez wrote. “Again, taking into account his horrific ordeal, I point out that I am in my first year as Principal, and my predecessor has no recollection or record of those complaints.” 

US-POLITICS-BIDEN
President Biden embraces Mandy Gutierrez, the principal of Robb Elementary School, as he and first lady Jill Biden pay their respects in Uvalde, Texas, on May 29, 2022.

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images


Gutierrez’s letter also addresses the Raptor application the school used in emergency situations, which the report claimed did not work properly on the day of the shooting due to a weak wi-fi signal. After the Raptor alert appeared to fail, the report noted that Gutierrez “did not attempt to communicate the lockdown alert over the school’s intercom,” and instead called Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo, who has also been placed on leave, by phone.

Gutierrez wrote that she was explicitly trained not to use the public address system in these situations. “Our training emphasized that using the Public Address System could compound the problem in creating a panic situation with students and an alert to the one or more gunman that was present to do maximum harm,” she said. 

Gutierrez also addressed the report’s claim that a series of lockdowns prompted by “bailouts,” a term used to describe when undocumented immigrants flee a vehicle after a crash during a pursuit with law enforcement, had created a culture of complacency wherein school staff stopped taking the lockdowns seriously. 

Gutierrez said that she “wholeheartedly” denies the claim, and noted that she received an “accomplished” rating on her performance review, which specifically noted that she “creates a safe environment” at the school.

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