Monday was the school board’s first meeting after a report and body camera video shed new light on the failed police response at Robb Elementary.
UVALDE, Texas — The wounds are fresh, the trauma is real, and the mistrust runs deep in Uvalde.
Crowds were agitated at the CISD Uvalde board meeting on Monday – the first since surveillance footage and an investigation report were released.
“Shame on you!” people shouted, demanding accountability from elected members and Superintendent Hal Harrell.
Much of their anger was aimed at suspended Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo.
“If he’s not fired tomorrow at noon, I want your resignation,” the father of one of the 19 children who died told Harrell.
“And each of you board members too.”
Anger boiled over as people repeatedly asked if Arredondo would be fired.
The report released Sunday by the Texas House Investigative Committee blames all law enforcement officers who responded to the May 24 massacre.
While the Uvalde ISD school shooting response plan called for Arredondo to be the incident commander if a shooting occurred on campus, he testified to committee members that he did not consider himself not in command that day.
The report says that in the absence of a cohesive response or incident command post, any of the other officers on scene — local, state or federal — could have taken charge.
Students and teachers waited more than an hour to be rescued from their classrooms with police just steps away.
“Not one was man enough to go in there. 77 min. 77 min!” a local pastor told school board members. “Your boy, Pete, he dropped the ball real hard.”
He told the superintendent and all the board members that the families deserved to be held accountable.
“Be man enough to come say, we let you down!” he said.
Jazmin Cazares, sister of victim Jackie Cazares, asked the council how they could expect her to return to school in just a few weeks.
She is entering her last year of high school.
“What are you going to do to make sure I don’t have to watch my friends die?” she asked.
“What are you going to do to make sure I don’t have to wait 77 minutes bleeding on my classroom floor, just like my little sister did?” asked Cazares.
Several family members who have lost children have questioned why Arredondo remains on the district payroll while several mothers and fathers are without paychecks because they lack the strength to return to work.
And many of the children who survived are afraid to go back to school.
“Most of these kids were my friends,” said a 10-year-old student. “I don’t want to go to your school if we don’t have protection.”
Harrell suggests pushing back the next school year after Labor Day. It also plans to offer a virtual option for students.
He told parents that before school starts, campuses will be surrounded by new, taller fences. Doors will be inspected to ensure they lock. Many will be replaced. New surveillance cameras will be installed.
“There have been a lot of failures,” he told the crowd, “and we are working to correct those failures.”
But the new security measures won’t bring back the 19 students and two teachers who died, and they won’t bring much peace to the survivors.
“My daughter, Layla, is so terrified of going back to school that she’s crying. What will you tell her? a mother asked.
Another father summed it up like this: “You’ve let us all down. If something does not change, I will withdraw my three children from your school.