Uvalde Superintendent Reveals Security Improvements During Contentious Board Meeting
Upgrades include fencing, 500 additional cameras, single points of entry, and an audit of the district’s Wi-Fi, among other things.
*UPDATE 8/11: Raptor Technologies disputes the preliminary report’s assertion that Principal Mandy Gutierrez “attempted” to initiate a lockdown alert, implying that she did not successfully initiate the lockdown. In a letter to the House Investigative Committee requesting relevant updates to the report, Raptor claims the following:
“Raptor has log data confirming that Principal Gutierrez successfully initiated the lockdown for Robb Elementary at 11:32 A.M. and confirming that, within seconds, the Raptor system successfully generated 91 critical notifications (like an Amber Alert), 68 text messages, and 136 emails to all configured user devices associated with the Robb campus or the district office. The House Report cites a teacher receiving a Raptor Alert lockdown notification at 11:32 A.M., the same time the lockdown alert was initiated. Various media reports cite additional teachers stating they received Raptor Alert lockdown notifications at 11:32 A.M. In multiple conversations with Uvalde district leadership since the tragedy, UCISD leaders have confirmed that Principal Gutierrez successfully initiated the lockdown notification, and that lockdown alerts were received by district staff at 11:32 A.M. as described by Principal Gutierrez in her July 27, 2022 letter to the Members of the Investigative Committee.
The report concludes that Wi-Fi connectivity issues impacted the activation and the distribution of the Robb Elementary Lockdown generated by Raptor Alert. Raptor Alert operates as both a mobile application and a web application which can be used by virtually any device with a browser, and which transmits data using any form of internet connection, including wired, cellular and Wi-Fi. There is also ample evidence that lockdown notifications were sent and received in a timely manner in the House Report itself, in media accounts, from district staff accounts, and from Raptor log data. The House Report emphasizes that teachers and staff frequently received alerts due to “bailouts” in the months leading up to the tragedy, further confirming the fact that alerts were regularly delivered. The fact that the district office was alerted immediately of the May 24 lockdown by Raptor Alert, and that district staff began placing other nearby schools into lockdown starting at 11:34 (based on Raptor log data) demonstrates further success of the lockdown notifications.”
Community members voiced frustrations during a Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) school board meeting Monday where updates were given on the district’s security plans.
Superintendent Hal Harrell outlined how the district is spending $4.5 million on security changes, including adding fencing around seven campuses and assigning 33 Texas DPS troopers to its campuses, KSAT reports. The district is also looking to hire a campus monitor for each school. Monitors would continuously walk school grounds throughout the day, performing various security tasks such as checking doors and gates.
The district ordered 500 cameras — 100 of which have been installed so far. Each school will also have a single point of entry with a secure vestibule.
An audit will also be conducted on the district’s Wi-Fi. A preliminary report on the shooting determined alerts sent out to teachers and faculty using a smartphone app were impeded by several factors, including low-quality internet service. It also found Principal Mandy Gutierrez attempted to initiate a lockdown on the app but had difficulty doing so because of a bad Wi-Fi signal.*
Furthermore, Harrell said there would be extensive counseling support for students, staff, and families. Counselors will be on all campuses for the first few weeks of school and there will also be comfort dogs. It was also announced that all K-12 students would be given the choice to attend classes virtually.
Uvalde Community Members Demand Action, Answers
During the open forum portion of the meeting, some of the estimated 100 community members who attended called for the termination of Gutierrez and Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arrendondo, according to ABC News. [
“We want results,” one person said. “Has anybody lost their job? Has anyone been terminated?”
Trustees were asked why a decision to fire Arrendondo has not been made yet. The board said it is following “due process” and that it is considering multiple new dates for a hearing. The preliminary report found Arredondo “failed to perform or to transfer to another person the role of incident commander.” He was placed on administrative leave on June 22 and the district is currently searching for an interim police chief, KSAT reports.
Gutierrez was placed on administrative leave Monday for the second time. She was originally placed on leave on July 25 but was reinstated three days later. The preliminary report said Gutierrez did not use the intercom to announce there was an active shooter in the school. Gutierrez said she was trained not to announce a lockdown over the intercom. She also denied she knew about and failed to fix the lock to one of the classrooms where the shooting happened, and that the school was complacent about campus security.
Board trustee JJ Suarez, a former police officer who responded to the shooting, was also questioned about his response. Suarez said he was told it was a “barricade situation” and that no students were in danger. He also said he did not hear gunshots from inside the school.
“I heard the shots,” one woman yelled. “I still hear that sound.”
Suarez said his failure to ask if children were still inside the classrooms will “haunt [him] every day.”