Uvalde Superintendent Refuses to Talk About Embattled School District Police Chief as Lawmakers Start Probe

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
June 10, 2022US News
Uvalde Superintendent Refuses to Talk About Embattled School District Police Chief as Lawmakers Start Probe
Hal Harrell, superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, speaks during the first public meeting since the May 24 mass shooting at an elementary school, in Uvalde, Texas, on June 3, 2022. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Uvalde’s school superintendent on June 9 refused to answer questions about the school district’s police chief, several weeks after a mass shooting claimed 21 lives in the Texas town.

“That’s a personnel question. I’m not going to be able to get into that in a public forum,” Hal Harrell, the superintendent, said to one of multiple questions about Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Peter Arrendondo.

Arrendondo, who was not present, gave the order not to immediately breach the classroom inside Robb Elementary School on May 24 despite an armed man being inside and multiple students still being alive, a preliminary investigation found. Arredondo was sworn in as a city councilman in May but missed the council’s meeting on Tuesday.

Harrell was asked whether he still has confidence in the law enforcement official, whether Arrendondo is still employed, and whether he has communicated with him at all.

He was also pressed on why the district put out messages on social media on the morning of the shooting that students were safe when, in fact, the shooter was inside the school and had not been stopped by law enforcement.

Harrell also declined to answer questions about the messages, citing an ongoing investigation led by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The official did say that the district’s officers have been conducting “security walks” on all campuses in the wake of the shooting and that there are plans to hire additional officers.

“We’re in the process of developing a list of actions we can take to strengthen security on all of our campuses. In addition, law enforcement officers have been assigned to each campus during summer school,” Harrell said. “It is our goal to hire additional officers to be assigned to each campus for the upcoming school year.”

According to the preliminary investigation, the school resource officer at Robb Elementary was not on campus when the shooter went onto the grounds.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said this week that state officials should make sure every child in Uvalde has access to mental health support services. Harrell said the students who attended Robb are all going to Flores Elementary School, which will help the district “meet their unique needs.” Robb will never again host students after the shooting, officials have said.

The U.S. Department of Justice is also probing the law enforcement response to the shooting, and the Texas legislature on Thursday launched its own probe.

“The entire state of Texas deserves the facts and answers as to what happened leading up to, during, and in the aftermath of this tragedy,” state Rep. Dustin Burrows, a Republican chairing the House panel looking at the response, said in his opening remarks for the panel’s first meeting. “And this committee will do everything in its power to get to the bottom of this.”

The panel went into closed session, blocking the public from viewing, when it began interviewing witnesses.

From The Epoch Times

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