Uvalde school principal reinstated after review, will now focus on ‘healing process,’ attorney says

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Robb Elementary School Principal Mandy Gutierrez has been “fully reinstated” after a three-day suspension, her attorney said Thursday.

Gutierrez was suspended without pay on Monday after a Texas House investigation into the May 24 massacre of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, found that she was aware of security problems at the school prior to the shooting but had failed to address them.

But the suspension was lifted and Gutierrez permitted to return to work after a review, her attorney Ricardo Cedillo said, according to the Texas Tribune.

Cedillo released a letter from Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell informing Guttierez that she would be allowed to return to work on July 28.

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“Thank you for responding to our request for information by submitting your response to the House Investigative Report,” the letter states.

“As we discussed today, with mutual agreement, you will continue to serve the District in an administrative capacity,” Harrell wrote. “Thank you for helping us as we work through the transition. We look forward to a successful 2022-2023.”

A special legislative report found that among numerous “systemic failures” in the police response to the deadly shooting, Robb Elementary School had a recurring problem with maintaining locks and doors. The report identified a “culture of noncompliance” for locked doors “which turned out to be fatal” after the gunman entered the building through an improperly locked door and then entered a classroom, where he slaughtered his victims.

Gutierrez and at least two other school employees had known the lock wasn’t working properly, but no work order was ever placed to fix it, according to state House investigators.

However, Gutierrez rebuffed the findings of the report in a letter to the House committee investigating the shooting. She provided evidence that the classroom door locks properly and said she was trained not to use the school’s public address system during an active shooting situation.

“It is unfair and inaccurate to conclude that I ever [became] complacent on any security issue of Robb Elementary,” Gutierrez said.

Asked by Axios if Gutierrez felt vindicated after her reinstatement, Cedillo replied: “Vindication is not what she sought. She sought merely to be allowed to continue her efforts to assist in the healing process for the families in the community she loves.

“She understands and respects that the grieving process might involve anger. That is a natural reaction and she respects and empathizes with everything those affected are going through,” he continued.

“She prays for the strength to focus on the healing process that will be prolonged and probably never-ending,” Cedillo added.

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