In an exclusive interview with CNN, Gutierrez was asked if she agreed with a legislative report that referred to the school’s “culture of non-compliance with safety policies.”
“Absolutely not,” Gutierrez said in response.
“Anytime a warning went out, every teacher on that campus considered it to be a potentially escalating situation,” she said.
Gutierrez said she immediately began shutting down an app called Raptor after she heard an armed man had jumped a school fence.
When asked if she feels she should lose her job, “I feel like I followed through on the training I received to the best of my abilities.” “And I’ll guess myself for the rest of my life.”
Last month, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Colonel Stephen Macro, called the police response a “miserable failure.” He blamed the sole blame for the failure in the engagement with the gunman on School District Police Chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, whom officials identified as the commander at the site.
Arredondo, who was on unpaid administrative leave, said earlier that he did not consider himself the accident leader that day.
Asked about law enforcement’s delay in confronting the shooter, Gutierrez said she was frustrated but not in a position to find fault.
“I’m not responsible for law enforcement and I can’t make a judgment and tell them how to do their jobs, just as I can’t ask them to tell me how to do my job,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m in a position to blame anyone.”
Gutierrez added, “I would blame things out of my control, which is that I can’t make the laws. So I can’t, and I can’t say how old you have to be to buy a firearm. I can’t say how many rounds of ammunition someone can buy. No I can determine how much safety we have on campus.”
The manager had “the impression that my staff and students were all safe”
The director said she prayed during the shooting and the ensuing siege.
“I wanted everyone to get out safely,” she said. “I didn’t want to leave until you were assured that all of my staff and all of my students were outside and safe. Until that last minute, I was still under the impression that my staff and students were all safe.”
The school board did not comment on her recess at Monday’s meeting. Gutierrez started as a fourth grade teacher in 2008, and has worked at Uvalde CISD for more than two decades.
In a letter to members of the House committee that investigated the shooting, Gutierrez questioned many of their findings. She said the door to Room 111 – one of two classrooms in which the victims were killed – was checked by guard staff every evening, including the night before the shooting. She also wrote that she does not remember the teacher in that room complaining that the door was not locked, according to the letter, which was released by her lawyer on Wednesday.
“What I do know is that the door to room 111 was actually closed,” she said in the interview. “And the reason I know is that we make regular rounds of campus and I myself used my master key to unlock that door.”
Arnulfo Reyes, who taught in Room 111, told CNN that Gutierrez’s claims in her letter about the door’s locking mechanism are not entirely accurate. He said he did not complain about the locking of the door, but rather that the door was broken or locked all day.
Reyes said he complained about the door breaking several times over the course of three years. Reyes said the door was locked during the day and was usually locked when he got to school. When asked if he remembers the door being locked on the day of the shooting, Reyes said he doesn’t.
Gutierrez admitted in her letter to Rob there were problems with spotty Wi-Fi. She wrote that she did not use the PA system on the day of the shooting because her training was that using it could “create panic.” She denied the existence of a “culture of complacency” in the school and said it was “unfair and inaccurate” to conclude that she was satisfied with security.
Gutierrez said in the letter that she would “live with the horror of these events for the rest of my life” and that she wanted to keep her job “to be on the front lines helping the children who survived, the families of all those affected, and the entire Uvald community.”
State Representative Dustin Burroughs, chair of the commission, said in a statement that he had not received Gutierrez’s letter.
“The commission relied on the testimony of interviews with several employees of the Uvalde CISD (including staff and management) and the Uvalde CISD Police Department in arriving at its conclusions regarding the practices that occurred at Robb Elementary School,” Burroughs said.
A spokesperson for the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, citing a large amount of media requests, asked for at least two days to respond.
The report says that the manager and officials were aware of a malfunction in the lock
Gutierrez’s leave came as Uvalde officials sought to reassure frustrated parents about the safety of their children when school resumes.
The report said Gutierrez and school administrators know that a lock in one of the classrooms where the killings occurred did not function properly and failed to repair.
On the day of the shooting, Gutierrez was in her office after the awards ceremony and tried to start shutting down the Raptor app but “had difficulty being alerted by a bad wi-fi signal,” according to the legislative report. She also did not attempt to “communicate the closure alert via the school’s intercom,” the report said.
According to the legislative report, school staff “often deliberately opened doors and bypassed locks.” This behavior has been “tacitly condoned” by principals and District Police – and are not treated as “grave infractions”.
Closing the doors as required would have slowed the “advancement of the gunman for a precious few minutes – long enough to receive alerts, hide the children, and close the doors; and long enough to give the police more opportunity to engage and stop the attacker before he could massacre the 19 students and two teachers”, It was stated in the Texas House report.
Lawmakers also criticized the police response and the failure of school officials and others to heed the many warning signs about the shooter. Their report said state and federal officers at the scene bore the same blame for the delay in confronting the shooter.
CNN’s Rosalina Nieves Raja Razek, Amanda Musa and Brad Parks contributed to this report.
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