Uvalde, TX – Robb Elementary School Principal Mandy Gutierrez was placed on paid administrative leave on Monday, her attorney confirmed.
Gutierrez was the head administrator at the school when an 18-year-old gunman walked into the building on May 24 and gunned down 19 children and two teachers, FOX News reported.
Seventeen more victims were wounded in the massacre.
Gutierrez’s attorney, Ricardo Cedillo, confirmed that Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell placed his client on paid administrative leave on July 25, FOX News reported.
Cedillo did not comment on the circumstances of Gutierrez’s suspension.
According to a scathing 77-page report compiled by a Texas House of Representatives investigative committee on July 17, the school failed to follow its own safety and security measures before and during the school shooting.
No one ever announced the lockdown over the intercom, and poor WIFI service in the building “likely delayed the lockdown alert,” according to the report.
“As a result, not all teachers received timely notice of the lockdown,” the committee concluded.
School officials were also aware of chronic problems with faulty locks and doors throughout the building, CNN reported.
The locking mechanism to Room 111 was “widely known to be faulty, yet it was not repaired,” according to the report.
“Robb Elementary had a culture of noncompliance with safety policies requiring doors to be kept locked, which turned out to be fatal,” the report said.
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw announced on May 27 the that the teacher who propped open the door to Robb Elementary School just minutes before the gunman used it to gain entry into the building had actually pulled the door closed when she saw the shooter approaching, but it failed to lock as intended.
DPS Chief Communications Officer Travis Considine said the teacher propped the door open with a rock and headed outside shortly before the suspect crashed nearby, CBS News reported.
The teacher ran back into the building to grab her phone to call 911 about the crash, then walked back outside to place the call.
“She came back out while on her phone, she heard someone yell, ‘He has a gun!’, she saw him jump the fence and that he had a gun, so she ran back inside,” Officer Considine said.
“She kicked the rock away when she went back in,” Attorney Don Flanery said, according to CBS News. “She remembers pulling the door closed while telling 911 that he was shooting. She thought the door would lock because that door is always supposed to be locked.”
Officer Considine said investigators have verified that the teacher did close the door behind her.
“The door did not lock. We know that much and now investigators are looking into why it did not lock,” he said, according to CBS News.
Meanwhile, an investigation into whether or not the doors to room 111 and 112 remained unlocked during the entire incident remains ongoing, ABC News reported.
Robb Elementary School Teacher Arnulfo Reyes, who taught in classroom 111 and was wounded in the attack, told ABC News on June 6 that he had told Gutierrez prior to the shooting that the automatic door lock to his classroom was hung up and not latching properly, ABC News reported.
“When that would happen, I would tell my principal, ‘Hey, I’m going to get in trouble again, they’re going to come and tell you that I left my door unlocked, which I didn’t,’” Reyes said. “But the latch was stuck. So, it was just an easy fix.”
The investigative committee’s report detailed other problems with the school’s security.
“The school’s five-foot tall exterior fence was inadequate to meaningfully impede an intruder. While the school had adopted security policies to lock exterior doors and internal classroom doors, there was a regrettable culture of noncompliance by school personnel who frequently propped doors open and deliberately circumvented locks,” the committee concluded, according to FOX News.
“At a minimum, school administrators and school district police tacitly condoned this behavior as they were aware of these unsafe practices and did not treat them as serious infractions requiring immediate correction,” the report read. “In fact, the school actually suggested circumventing the locks as a solution for the convenience of substitute teachers and others who lacked their own keys.”
Gutierrez, who has worked for the school district for the past 20 years, is the second district employee to be suspended since the school shooting took place.
Director McCraw has placed blame for the delayed law enforcement response to the massacre squarely on the shoulders of Uvalde Consolidated Independent Schools District (UCISD) Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who the director alleged was the “on-scene commander.”
Chief Arredondo, who was placed on administrative leave after the school massacre, has said he believed he was in the role of a front-line responder and that someone else was commanding the larger police response to the situation.