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Exclusive: Attorney shares Robb Elementary principal's side of the story

The shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers happened in the final days of Mandy Gutierrez's first year as principal of the school.

SAN ANTONIO — This article has been updated to include a clarification of a misstatement made by a quoted source.


The principal of Robb Elementary School, Mandy Gutierrez, has been reinstated.

She's sharing her side of the story for the first time through her attorney in an exclusive interview with KENS 5.

The shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers happened in the final days of Gutierrez's first year as principal of the school.

She was placed on administrative leave earlier this week.

Gutierrez faced intense criticism following the release of the Texas House Committee's report investigating the shooting.

"In spite of many, many good features you can see in the report, it got a few things not exactly right," said Ricardo G. Cedillo, a San Antonio attorney who is representing Gutierrez.

Cedillo is offering his service to the elementary school principal pro bono.

"She's struggling. It's very, very hard for her," Cedillo explained. "She isn't independently wealthy. She requires her job to support herself and her family. She sees the job as her ability to be on the front lines and continue to help these families."

On Monday, Gutierrez got a letter from UCISD telling her she was being placed on paid leave. On Thursday, the district changed its mind, reinstating Gutierrez to her position.

"Some of [the report] put Mandy Gutierrez right in the crosshairs," Cedillo said. "That created an outcry in the community."

RELATED: Robb Elementary School principal notified by superintendent of reinstatement

The main points of concern in the report for Gutierrez include actions taken with the PA system, doors that didn't lock, faulty Wi-Fi and an attitude of complacency during lockdowns.

"The report says, 'You never did anything about that door.' Number one, it's not a new door. It's an old door. Yes, it had its issues, but that doesn't change the fact that it locked. It locked every single day," Cedillo said. "That door has to be treated specially to lock. Those doors aren't manufactured anymore. The manufacturer went out of business."

Cedillo says Uvalde is considered a poor school district, and fixing old infrastructure should be prioritized at the state level.

"The legislature has special legislative sessions on which bathrooms kids can use. Why don't you have a special session on equitable funding of all public schools?" Cedillo asked.

The Wi-Fi problems, he assures, did not prevent all teachers from getting the alert about the lockdown.

RELATED: Uvalde CISD to begin making security changes to schools

"She broke from protocol to make it work. They have an app on their phone, all the teachers have it. It's called Raptor. They were trained in February," Cedillo explained. "She saw the [app] for 5 seconds buffer. So she sent everybody where they were going [to shelter] and she ran where she always runs to get a good signal. She ran to the window in her office and she held the phone up to the window until the thing clicked. One of the recipients was Arredondo."

The accusation of an attitude of complacency, Cedillo says, directly conflicts with high grades in the principal's employee evaluation specifically dealing with security.

And not using the PA system, he stressed, is what Gutierrez was told to do by trainers.

"They told her, 'The reason you don't use the PA system is because you need to consider it as a communication with the enemy,'" Cedillo said.

He initially said the trainers were from Raptor, but on Monday, he clarified that he wasn't sure which company had done the training, only that "they were qualified to train her on the app."

Cedillo added that his client was never asked by the Texas House committee why she never used the PA system.

RELATED: Uvalde school shooting: What is the employment status of responding officers? We asked each agency

Gutierrez was born and raised in Uvalde and attended school there. She has worked for UCISD for more than 20 years serving in roles that include a fourth grade teacher, assistant principal and principal at Robb Elementary School.

"She's part of the solution here. She's not part of the problem," Cedillo said.

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