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Uvalde elementary principal reinstated after school shooting investigation, lawyer says

Mandy Gutierrez
Dario Lopez-Mills
/
AP
FILE - President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden comfort principal Mandy Gutierrez as superintendent Hal Harrell stands next to them, at the memorial outside Robb Elementary School to honor the victims killed in this week's school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 29, 2022. The attorney for the principal of the Texas elementary school where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers says Gutierrez has been placed on administrative leave on Monday, July 25.

Mandy Gutierrez was put on paid leave Monday and responded Wednesday to a Texas House committee’s investigative report about the massacre. On Thursday, her attorney released a letter from the Uvalde superintendent saying she’s no longer on administrative leave.

Three days after the Uvalde superintendent placed the principal of Robb Elementary School on paid administrative leave, Mandy Gutierrez is back in her leadership position, according to her lawyer. The reinstatement comes one day after Gutierrez rebuffed findings in a Texas House committee’s investigative report about security at her school.

According to a letter from Superintendent Hal Harrell that Gutierrez’s attorney released Thursday, she resumed her duties as principal after her submission of additional information to the investigative committee.

Gutierrez was placed on leave Monday, more than two months after a shooting at Robb left 19 students and two teachers dead. It was the worst school shooting in Texas history.

The letter to Gutierrez from Harrell suggested that her leave was related to the House committee’s investigation.

“Thank you for responding to our request for information by submitting your response to the House Investigative Report. As a result of our review, you will be allowed to return to work,” Harrell wrote.

In a statement responding to the reinstatement, Ricardo Cedillo, Gutierrez’s lawyer, said, “she has been fully reinstated to her position, where she will continue to discharge her duties and continue to serve all the families of the [Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District].”

The House committee’s report pointed to several systemic failures in law enforcement’s response to the shooting. The committee also alleged that issues at Robb Elementary, including a culture of complacency with security measures, allowed the shooter to enter the school unobstructed.

In Gutierrez’s letter to the House committee, she rejected assertions that she created an environment of complacency regarding school safety. She said that by not announcing a lockdown alert over the intercom system she had followed her training, and that the door through which the shooter is believed to have entered the classroom had a functioning lock, two areas of investigation by the House committee.

Harrell did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. Anne Marie Espinoza, a spokesperson for the district, said the “Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District follows a practice of not addressing personnel matters.”