Jun 9, 2022
Uvalde school district officials hold press conference 6/09/22 Transcript
Officials from the Uvalde, Texas school district held a press conference on Thursday, following the tragic mass shooting at an elementary school in the area that left 19 students dead, as well as two faculty members. Read the transcript here.
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Anne Marie Espinoza: (00:00)
I’m Anne Marie Espinoza, Executive Director of Communications in marketing of Uvalde, CSID. Thank you for being here at today’s press conference. We have received an overwhelming amount of requests. It makes it extremely difficult to provide individualized responses.
Anne Marie Espinoza: (00:19)
The intent of today’s press conference is to share district information on grade level alignment, security, counseling services, student item pickup, and upcoming updates. Our district continues to collaborate with the ongoing investigation. Therefore, information on the investigation will not be included in today’s press conference.
Anne Marie Espinoza: (00:50)
I would like to share with you that the district cannot comment on personnel matters. I ask you to be mindful. This is our home, our district, and our community. We are grieving all as one. To share district information, Superintendent, Dr. Harrell.
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (01:20)
Thank you, Anne Marie. Good morning. As a district, we continue to grieve alongside our families and extend our deepest condolences. I want to honor our families at this time with support, love, and the commitment to move forward as a district for our students.
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (01:37)
One of the first things that I want to cover is our grade level alignment as we move into the next school year. Dalton Elementary will serve students in pre-K through second grade. This will keep the second grade who are this past year’s first graders on that campus, a familiar campus with the staff that they’re familiar with, as well as the landscape and setting they’re familiar with.
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (02:01)
Flores Elementary will be home to grades three through sixth. This will allow us to move all of our Robb students together as a cohort and allow us to better meet their unique needs as we move forward as well. There’ll be more information coming forward as plans are finalized.
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (02:19)
Safety and security: security walks have been conducted and will continue on all campuses. We’re in the process of developing a list of actions we can take to strengthen security on all of our campuses. In addition, law enforcement officers have been assigned to each campus during summer school, and it is our goal to hire additional officers to be assigned to each campus for the upcoming school year.
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (02:46)
Counseling services: our district will continue to provide counseling support to our staff, families for the foreseeable future. Currently in our summer programs, we have counseling support available for all students on the respective summer school campuses, and can be provided by our trauma trained counselors. If needed, counselors will refer students and families to community providers for individual or group counseling and therapy.
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (03:16)
Students not attending summer school may receive counseling support as well, this is provided by Family Services Association, the Children’s Bereavement Center, and Region 20 Educational Service Center. These services are located here at Benson, at the Benson Educational complex, between the hours of 10:00 AM and 6:30 PM, Monday through Thursday and through June 30th at this time.
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (03:42)
There’s also a list of counseling resources available on our UCISD website. We have gotten calls about Robb student item pickup. Plans are being made to collect items, student items from the classrooms at Robb. Parents, please watch for updates with the dates, times, and locations for our families to collect their items.
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (04:07)
As we move forward through this summer, I will continue weekly updates. We recognize our families and staff have questions that we do not have answers to yet. But beginning next week, I’ll provide weekly updates to share information with our students, parents, staff, and our community in a similar fashion as we have done through the course of this past year.
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (04:30)
Another question I had this morning coming in was graduation. This morning, we have not had graduation yet for our seniors. We are meeting with our senior leadership team later today and discuss with them the possible options for our graduation ceremony or what that will look like as we move forward. At this time, that’s all the updates I have. Ms. Ann Marie, do you have-
Anne Marie Espinoza: (04:59)
Before we take questions for Dr. Harrell, and we’re only going to take a few questions, allow me to remind you, our district continues to collaborate with the investigation. Questions cannot not be addressed in regards to the investigation. Please let me remind you that the district cannot address personnel matters in an open forum. Please keep in mind, this is our home, our district and our community. We are all grieving. We will take a few questions in an orderly fashion on district information for Dr. Harrell. Please raise your hand so I can offer you the opportunity.
Matt [inaudible 00:05:46], WAIKEB San Antonio. My first question, or my question really is, do you still trust your police chief to handle responses in his duties?
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (05:58)
That falls in line with some personnel, and I’m not going to comment on… I cannot comment [inaudible 00:06:06]-
Anne Marie Espinoza: (06:09)
Thank you, [inaudible 00:06:10] question?
Anne Marie Espinoza: (06:12)
Judianne Daniel: (06:12)
Hi, Judianne Daniel with ABC News. Question on some of the security that you just mentioned a little bit ago, a lot of parents have talked about their fears of sending their children back to school. Is the district at this time bringing in any outside help to help calm the fears parents have about security on campuses? My first question, and second question is, do I understand correctly that there may have already been an outside consulting agency helping with security before this incident even happened?
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (06:46)
Okay. We have in our security walks worked with an outside agency to collect information and put that information together as a working list. We are currently working with an outside agency at time.
Judianne Daniel: (07:01)
Was there an agency in place before the incident happened?
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (07:06)
We have worked with an architectural firm. I wouldn’t really call it specifically for safety and security, but we have worked with the architectural firm. That is part of what we look at.
Judianne Daniel: (07:17)
And just to clarify, what was that firm supposed to be doing? My understanding… Let me just ask straight out. They were looking at any issues with buildings and whether the buildings were up to date, and whether they needed improvement; locks, for example, on outside of floors, things like that?
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (07:37)
That’s been our most recent walks. That’s been the look with that agency.
Anne Marie Espinoza: (07:41)
Okay. Thank you. Next question from this side of the room. Right here.
Speaker 4: (07:45)
What’s the future of [inaudible 00:07:47]-
Anne Marie Espinoza: (07:47)
A little bit loud.
Speaker 4: (07:49)
… Hello? Turned off.
Anne Marie Espinoza: (07:51)
Close. No closer.
Speaker 4: (07:52)
Hello. Hi, [inaudible 00:07:55] San Antonio. What is the future of Robb Elementary? That’s my first question. And then my second question is related to the locks. When was the last time they were updated or looked at, and stuff like that?
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (08:07)
For your first question, Robb elementary, we will not be going back to that campus in any form or fashion. There will be no school personnel on that campus as we move forward. As far as the future of that site, there are discussions about what that will look like as we move forward as a community. We’ll have some community input to help determine what that looks like for our community and moving forward. As far as the other question, I don’t have all that particular information. I know that’s been part of the investigation. When we do have findings in the investigation, I bet that will bring some clarity.
Anne Marie Espinoza: (08:40)
Omar [inaudible 00:08:45] with CNN. Are the doors for either Robb or for Schools in general expected to lock when they close or do they have to be locked manually? That’s my first question. And my second question was there was school communication that went out at 11:43 at the end that they were saying that students and staff were safe inside the school. And as we know, during that time, there were shots fired. And my question is what goes into that communication? Is that a school level decision? Is that a law enforcement decision that would put out that kind of communication?
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (09:22)
I’m going to jot those down. A lot of that sounds like it’s would be in the investigation and the results for the investigation.
But just generally speaking, even just for schools?
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (09:33)
I’m going to wait until the investigation comes out. I’m not going to get into the-
Well, then forget Robb Elementary for a second. Generally at schools in your district-
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (09:41)
We’ll have some more updates on the safety and security [inaudible 00:09:42].
Anne Marie Espinoza: (09:42)
Thank you, sir. Next question right here. Gentleman in the white shirt.
Speaker 7: (09:50)
[inaudible 00:09:50]. Some of those communications came from you.
Anne Marie Espinoza: (09:50)
A little closer.
Speaker 7: (09:56)
Some of those communications came from you, posted Twitter and Facebook. You signed your name saying that students were safe. Where did you get that information?
Anne Marie Espinoza: (10:00)
I’ll take that.
Speaker 7: (10:00)
Is he going to answer the question?
Anne Marie Espinoza: (10:00)
I’ll take the mic now.
Speaker 7: (10:00)
Or should I ask?
Anne Marie Espinoza: (10:00)
I’ll take the mic. We’re going to move on to the next question, Dr. Harrell. Did you have a question?
Speaker 8: (10:15)
I have a question, ma’am. Thank you. Dr. Harrell, I just want to thank you for making time to answer our questions today. I’m [inaudible 00:10:20] with NBC News. I know you can’t comment on personnel matters. Can you confirm if Mr. [inaudible 00:10:26] was still a district employee? And if so, have you communicated with him at all?
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (10:31)
That’s personnel question. I’m not going to be able to answer that in a public forum.
Speaker 8: (10:36)
And I would like to reiterate my colleague’s question from the back regarding where the information was gathered from, whenever students were initially said to be safe. Just curious where that information came from when students were initially listed to be safe on the day of the shooting? [inaudible 00:10:53] no answer.
Anne Marie Espinoza: (10:53)
[inaudible 00:10:53] one more question?
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (10:53)
One more question.
Speaker 9: (10:53)
Speaker 10: (10:53)
[inaudible 00:10:53] hasn’t had a chance to talk.
Speaker 11: (10:53)
[inaudible 00:10:53]. I’m with the New York Times. Can you discuss at all [Robert Ronald’s 00:11:11] sister [inaudible 00:11:15] and were you in the class with him? [inaudible 00:11:20]?
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (11:21)
Again, that’s going to be part of the investigation piece. There’ll be more clarity when that investigation information is released.
Speaker 10: (11:27)
Why do you ignore the [inaudible 00:11:28] this has been happening since day one? So let me ask a question.
Anne Marie Espinoza: (11:32)
One more question [inaudible 00:11:33].
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (11:32)
Speaker 10: (11:38)
I know you say this is your community and that you’re grieving and that we have to be respectful to the families, but this is also our community. This is my audience. We’ve been talking to the families since everybody that’s mourning. And for them, this is not my message.
Speaker 10: (11:53)
This is their message. They get answers because this is also going to help them in the process of mourning. And they believe that authorities have been hiding and they haven’t been straightforward about what’s been happening. When are they going to get more answers and more securities? I’m sure if it was your child that passed away or that was in danger, you would be feeling the same as these families. And they need answers, please.
Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell: (12:16)
Okay. We are still working with the investigative agencies. I know there’s some in my office this morning, yesterday. So this investigation’s ongoing. I’m not going to be able to speak on what we’ve been asked or what they have shared at this point. Again, that will come out in the time when those items are released.
Speaker 12: (12:39)
So doctor, how can-
Anne Marie Espinoza: (12:40)
Thank you [inaudible 00:12:41] very much.
Speaker 12: (12:48)
How can you expect your community to feel safe going back to school?
Speaker 14: (12:51)
Are you satisfied with the status of the investigation right now, sir? Why are [inaudible 00:12:55].
Speaker 12: (12:56)
Parents who told us they do not feel safe sending their students back to school and you have a responsibility, sir, to meet those-
Speaker 14: (13:05)
In regard to families [inaudible 00:13:05] you arrived at their house [inaudible 00:13:08] and why?