The principal of the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman went on a shooting spree in May has been reinstated to her position.
Mandy Gutierrez was put on administrative leave with pay by Hal Harell, the superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, following an investigation by a Texas legislative committee that found that she was aware of security issues around the school.
On 24 May, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos drove to the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, where he went on to kill 19 children and two teachers. He was subsequently shot dead by law enforcement officers.
The principal was allowed to return to work on Thursday after she contested the findings of the committee, according to her attorney.
“Ms Gutierrez’s administrative leave with pay has been lifted and she has been fully reinstated to her position,” ABC News reported, citing a statement from her attorney.
The investigative report had determined that “systemic failures” and poor leadership had contributed to the death toll.
It added that Ms Gutierrez and other staff members knew that the lock on the door of Room 111 – where the shootings took place – was not working properly. Despite that knowledge, the staff did not place a work order to get it fixed, which enabled the gunman to easily enter the classroom.
However, Ms Gutierrez refuted the findings that she and an assistant knew that the lock wasn’t working.
“It is unfair and inaccurate to conclude I ever [became] complacent on any security issue of Robb Elementary,” she wrote in a letter to the Texas legislative committee members on Wednesday, according to Fox News.
She reportedly said that the door lock worked because a custodian checked every door nightly.
“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 on this date (28 July 2022),” Mr Harrell said.
The investigation had also found that a Uvalde police officer armed with an AR-15 rifle hesitated and missed a critical chance to shoot the gunman. Two officers arrived on the scene of the shooting at the school moments after Ramos crashed his car and opened fire outside the building, Zavala county chief deputy sheriff Ricardo Rios said.
Even though one of the officers was armed with a rifle, he did not take the shot because they feared hitting children playing outside in the line of fire. Nearly 77 minutes passed before law enforcement entered a barricaded classroom filled with dying victims and shot the gunman dead.
The recent mass shootings at Uvalde and in Buffalo, New York, triggered a bipartisan bill on gun control, which was signed into law by president Joe Biden.