UVALDE, Texas — The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District held a community meeting Monday night, promising to listen up front before hearing more than three hours of comments from school parents.
"We are here to listen to you," board Vice President Luis Fernandez before turning the proceedings over to Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell.
Harrell said that the last meeting was "too formal" and that this Monday meeting would be an "open-format" where people can voice their concerns. "I did not do well," he said about not having this sort of open meeting sooner.
"We have a lot to say and we won't be silenced and we won't be stopped," said a Uvalde resident, adding that there would not be a time limit in the meeting on discussing their concerns. "Nobody has accepted accountability, so we're going to force y'all to."
Several people yelled, "Shame on you!" regarding Pete Arredondo still being employed with the Uvalde school system. When asked if he will be fired, Harrell said, "He is on administrative leave."
A mother of four Uvalde children told the board, "You need to clean house. Hire experienced, trained officers who are prepared to take on the responsibility to protect our children. Not people who are complacent."
She continued discussing one of her child's fear about returning to school. "What are you going to do about your failures? Are you going to make this right?"
Harrell said he "lies awake at night" trying to figure out how to improve, and he said he worries about what can be done to "secure our campuses for your children and regain that trust."
This was the school board's first meeting since the release of a Texas House committee's report on what went wrong during the response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24.
In one his latest latest update to Uvalde CISD families, Harrell talked about changes to the previously announced grade level alignment and a request to delay the start of school.
His letter also included a number of updates on other school issues.
Since the mass shooting at Robb Elementary on May 24 when 19 children and two teachers were killed, the district has been planning changes to move Robb Elementary students to other campuses. The Robb Elementary School building is set to be demolished.
Here are some of the superintendent's previously announced updates:
Grade level alignment
The district said adjustments were made to where the students will be housed in the 2022-2023 school year.
Below are the changes the district announced Wednesday:
● The Uvalde Elementary campus, Benson Educational Complex, will serve third and fourth grades under the direction of the teachers, support staff, and administrators from Robb Elementary.
● Flores Elementary will serve students in the fifth and sixth grade. The teachers, support staff, and administrators at Flores Elementary will remain in place.
● Crossroads Academy will be relocated to 537 E. Oppenheimer Street. This facility will meet the Academy's unique needs for a flexible school day with a focus on individualized learning plans.
Previously, the district had the Robb students split between Dalton and Flores Elementary.
The district said counselors with specialized backgrounds in trauma and grief will be available to serve students and staff at all district campuses.
Academic Calendar Adjustment
A 2022-2023 school year calendar adjustment will be proposed at the Monday, July 18, Uvalde CISD Board Meeting. The delay will allow us to better address staff and student needs for a successful school year.
Safety and Security Updates
We continue to work in coordination with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas School Safety Center (TxSSC) to conduct a comprehensive safety and security audit of all district property. These agencies have provided the district with initial recommendations for enhancing safety and security infrastructure, which we are taking action with $1 million in funding donated by the Las Vegas Raiders. Current projects include:
● Installation of new perimeter fencing
● Addition of security cameras
● Upgrading of doors, door locks, and access points
● Hiring additional district police officers and security personnel
Harrell also issued a statement on the interim report. He says the report reinforces planned safety and security improvements to schools.
The nearly 80-page report was released as the first to criticize both state and federal law enforcement, and not just local authorities, in the South Texas town for the bewildering inaction by heavily armed officers.
Nearly 400 law enforcement officials rushed to the mass shooting, but “egregiously poor decision-making” resulted in more than an hour of chaos before the gunman who took 21 lives was finally confronted and killed, according to the investigative report released Sunday.
Also, Uvalde CISD received a $1 million donation from the Las Vegas Raiders. The donation will replace short chain-link with tall wrought-iron. It'll upgrade UCISD's 750 doors, and put cameras outside school buildings.
Watch the livestream here: