Uvalde school district reveals new safety plans at tense school board meeting as parents vent frustration and anger

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By Taylor Romine and Rosa Flores, CNN

Uvalde officials are working to improve school safety for the resumption of classes, including installing bullet-proof windows, a school board meeting revealed on Monday – nearly two months after the horrific Robb Elementary School massacre left 21 people dead, including 19 children.

The new measures include hiring 10 more police officers for its school campuses, adding metal detectors and identifying an entry point for each school before students return on September 6, the superintendent said. Hal Harrell at a two-hour public meeting. At the time of the shooting, only five officers were employed by the district, according to the Texas House Committee’s interim report on the shooting.

But parents and other community members expressed frustration Monday night at what they called a lack of transparency from the council about what will be done to make their children feel safe returning to school.

At one point, some community members walked out as a woman began to say she supported the school district during a public comment period.

The Massacre of Uvalde was america deadliest school shooting since 2012, and questions have grown over the late police response.

During a hearing before the Texas Senate last month, Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, called the police response an “abject failure”. He blamed school district police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo alone, whom officials identified as the on-scene commander and “decided to put the lives of the officers before the lives of the children,” McCraw said. .

Video footage from body worn cameras officers during the mass shooting show Arredondo at the center of the police response: giving orders, transmitting and receiving information, and officers deferring to his position when confused about their roles or whereabouts their response to the shooting.

Yet a preliminary report of a Texas House investigative committee said state and federal officers at the scene also share responsibility for what has been described as a “nonchalant blanket approach.” Body camera footage shows at least one Texas DPS soldier at one of the school’s entrances minutes before the scheduled date.

Arredondo is currently on unpaid administrative leave and the meeting to vote on his possible dismissal has been postponed to a later date. Arredondo has previously said he does not consider himself the incident commander that day.

Meanwhile, Robb Elementary School principal Mandy Gutierrez was placed on unpaid administrative leave on Monday, according to her attorney, Ricardo Cedillo. The board did not comment on his leave at the meeting.

Video shows a state trooper at the scene earlier

In body cam video revealed last week, at least one Texas DPS soldier was present at Robb Elementary about five minutes earlier than expected.

It was initially believed that a DPS soldier arrived on the scene at 11:42 a.m., 9 minutes after the shooter entered the school, according to testimony and deadlines provided by McCraw.

But the body camera video of Uvalde’s police sergeant. Eduardo Canales shows a DPS soldier already at the west entrance of the school at 11:37. Another officer’s video captured another DPS soldier already inside the east entrance of the school building at 11:42 a.m.

It wasn’t until 12:50 p.m. that Border Patrol tactical agents broke down the classroom door and killed the shooter.

DPS spokesman Travis Considine told CNN in a statement Monday that McCraw’s testimony regarding when a soldier entered the school hallway was accurate and “the times the principal testified when soldiers entered the building have not changed”.

McCraw “testified that there were sufficient officers and equipment on the scene at 11:36 a.m. to neutralize the subject. In his testimony, he was the first to illustrate how the response of the forces of the order was a miserable failure, as it was decided to treat the subject as a barricaded subject and not as an active shooter,” Considine said.

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CNN’s Steve Almasy, Nouran Salahieh and Travis Caldwell contributed to this report.

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