Hal Harrell, the superintendent of schools in Uvalde, Texas, has announced his resignation, a little more than four months after Rob Elementary School shooting in which 19 students and two teachers were killed.
At a meeting Monday night, the Uvalde school board unanimously agreed to begin a search for Harrell’s replacement.
Supporters of Harrell are seen gathered outside before the start of the meeting. However, several attendees, some of whom are family members of the shooting victims, spoke out against Harrell and the school board during the proceedings, criticizing their actions in the wake of the shooting. Other attendees could be heard cheering and applauding these criticisms.
After a series of critical speakers, one woman spoke in favor of Harrell. Her remarks were also greeted with applause.
Law enforcement’s response to the May 24 massacre has come under intense scrutiny in the months since the shooting, and the administration of the Uvalde Unified Independent School District has also been accused of not having proper procedures in place to stop mass shootings.
Last week, the entire police department that serves the school district was suspended due to “recent developments” that “revealed additional concerns about the department’s operations,” Anne Marie Espinoza, executive director of communications and marketing for Uvalde CISD, said in a statement.
This move came shortly after termination of Crimson Elizondo, a member of the department who was previously employed by the Texas Department of Safety and responded to the shooting at Robb Elementary. According to CNN, Elizondo can be heard on body camera footage from the day of the shooting telling other officers at the scene, “If my son was in there, I wouldn’t be out. I promise you.”
ONE July report Texas lawmakers found “systemic failures and egregiously poor decision-making” in the response to the shooting, in which responders waited more than an hour before confronting the gunman in a classroom.
“The lapse in leadership could have contributed to the loss of life as the injured victims waited over an hour for help and the assailant continued to fire his weapon sporadically,” the report said.
According to the report, most of the victims were “immediately lost,” but the panel concluded that “it is plausible that some of the victims could have survived if they had not had to wait an additional 73 minutes for rescue.”
In addition, the responding officers “failed to adhere to their active shooter training and failed to prioritize saving the lives of innocent victims over their own safety,” the report said.
Pete Arredondo, the former Uvalde school district police officer, was he was fired in August.
Caroline Linton contributed reporting.