Uvalde’s school superintendent announces retirement after new details after Robb Elementary massacre


Uvalde, Texas
CNN

Hal Harrell, superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, announced his retirement Monday, according to a Facebook post by his wife, Donna Goates Harrell.

“I am truly grateful for your support and well wishes. My decision to retire has not been made lightly and was made after much prayer and judgment,” the post read. “My wife and I love you all and this community, which we both grew up in, and therefore the decision was a difficult one for us.”

Harrell has been under scrutiny since The 24 May massacre at Robb Folkeskole left 19 students and two teachers dead.

Before a school board meeting Monday, Harrell was greeted and hugged by a throng of people.

CNN tried to question him about the district hiring a former Texas Department of Public Safety trooper who was under investigation for her response to the Robb shooting, and he responded by saying, “I think I’ll enjoy this right now, please.”

When pressed further by CNN, Harrell said, “I will visit (with people).”

During the meeting, the board went into closed session to discuss replacing Harrell and, upon returning to the public portion of the meeting, voted unanimously to adopt a motion to conduct a search for a new superintendent. Harrell will remain until a successor is named, the Facebook post said.

An emotional divide was evident at the meeting, with mostly white supporters of the superintendent outside the school board meeting cheering him on, and mostly Hispanic families of victims inside the meeting crying and asking the board for accountability.

Harrell received a standing ovation from his supporters before Uvalde residents addressed him and the board in an open forum.

Brett Cross, guardian of victim Uziyah Garciasaid, “I will say this, if it had been 17 white kids, all those people out there would have been in here. All our kids matter.”

Another resident said it was disheartening for many of the people in attendance to see so many outside cheering for Harrell. She asked the board to not just consider the resignation, but to “make it a done deal” on Monday.

“Nineteen kids, two teachers, somebody has to take responsibility for these deaths. We can’t all sit back and wait for an investigation to be completed. We’re not asking for criminal charges. We’re asking for accountability,” the resident said. You appointed Dr. Harrell, accept his retirement and let’s move on and do what we need to do as a community.”

The sister of the victim Irma Garcia – if broken manJoe Garcia, who died days after the shooting — demanded that all board members resign and that the principal and vice principal be removed from their positions.

“We all know that having a new school with the same complacent leaders is not the change this city deserves,” she said.

While Harrell announced a series of new safety measures for this school yearsome Unchosen parents have has called for the superintendent’s removal for months.

Months after the massacre, Details about the school district’s response are still coming to the shooting.

“My heart was broken on May 24th and I will always pray for every precious life that was tragically taken, as well as their families,” Harrell’s Facebook post read.

According to the post, the superintendent asked his wife “to send this message since he doesn’t have Facebook.”

Last week, Harrell emailed staff about his intention to retire.

“I am in my 31st year in education, all earned and dedicated to the students and families here at Uvalde,” Harrell wrote.

That message came hours after the school district announced it suspend operations of its police force and placing a lieutenant and another top school official on leave as part of the investigation.

The email also came later It was reported by CNN The Uvalde school district had recently hired Crimson Elizondo, a former Texas Department of Public Safety trooper who is under investigation for her reaction to the massacre.

Elizondo arrived minutes after the shooting started and was heard on body-worn camera video saying she would have reacted differently if her own son had been inside the school.

“If my son had been in there, I wouldn’t have been outside,” she told another officer. “I promise you.”

The school district apologized to the victims’ families and the Uvalde community “for the pain this disclosure has caused,” the district said last week. “Ms. Elizondo’s statement in the audio is inconsistent with district expectations.”

Elizondo has been fired from the school district and declined to speak to CNN.

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