The latest development in the Robb Elementary School mass shooting tragedy is that Hal Harrell, Superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, resigned on Monday. He asked his wife, Donna Goates Harrell, to post his resignation announcement on her Facebook page because he does not use Facebook. The link to her page now brings me to a private page, so she has locked down her account so that the general public cannot see her posts.
Mrs. Harrell probably experienced strong reactions to the post. Many residents of Uvalde are bitter that they have not received answers to the questions still circulating after the mass shooting that happened on May 24. Five long months have gone by and as far as personnel decisions go, there really hasn’t been much in the way of anyone being held accountable for all the wrong decisions that were made that day. It seems that no one did anything right.
It is impossible to shake the feeling of outrage or exasperation felt while watching the video footage that has been released. It shows almost 100 law enforcement officers from several different agencies just standing around in the school’s hallway outside of the classroom where a deranged man was shooting and killing fourth graders and two teachers. Nineteen children were murdered that day.
Harrell, the school board, and other school district officials have faced heavy criticism. He said he will remain throughout this school year until the school board hires someone for the job.
“My heart was broken on May 24th and I will always pray for each precious life that was tragically taken and their families,” the Facebook post said.
“My wife and I love you all and this community that we both grew up in, therefore this decision was a difficult one for us. I have been blessed to work among amazing educators and staff who believe in education for more than 30 years, which have all been in our beautiful community. These next steps for our future are being taken after much reflection, and is completely my choice,” Harrell said in the post.
“I am truly grateful for your support and well wishes,” Harrell said.
The timing of Harrell’s resignation is suspicious. Just last week I wrote about a story that had come to light and outraged the families of the victims, as well as other residents of Uvalde. Uvalde CISD hired Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officer Crimson Elizondo as a Uvalde CISD police officer. She is under investigation for her response to the school shooting. She resigned from DPS while under investigation and Uvalde CISD hired her. The day after that was reported, she was fired because of the strong public outcry.
One other recent development is that Uvalde school district officials suspended the entire school district police force a little more than a week ago. All of the developments come just a month into the new school year. The school board met for more than an hour in closed session Monday night. They unanimously approved a motion to conduct a superintendent search.
Harrell’s announcement was met with mixed reactions from parents and activists. A crowd of Harrell’s supporters gathered outside the district administrative building Monday evening, dressed in the district’s colors, maroon and white, many holding signs thanking Harrell for his service.
Others have been calling for Harrell’s removal for months, saying he should be held responsible for the district’s failure to adequately prepare for school shootings. In emotional public testimony during the Monday meeting, several community members and victims’ family members called out Harrell, saying he failed to show leadership in the weeks after the shooting.
“You had an opportunity to be a beacon of hope and change,” said Marissa Lozano, whose sister Irma Garcia was one of the teachers killed in the shooting and whose brother-in-law Joe Garcia died suddenly two days later. “Instead you’ve decided to cower and refuse to hold anybody accountable.”
Parents and loved ones of those who were murdered on May 24 have a right to know what happened and how the school district will deal with safety precautions moving forward. It’s been five months. It is not too much to ask.