“I have an anxiety in my heart that is exacerbated by the fear of my children,” said Rachel Martinez, a parent of four children. The question is where are these failures.”
The 77-page “interim report” described the “grossly flawed approach” by nearly 400 local, state and federal law enforcement officials who visited the school in what was the second-worst K-12 school shooting in the United States.
State officials named Arredondo the incident commander and blamed him for the disastrous law enforcement response, which has been heavily criticized in part because it took officers more than an hour to break into the classroom and kill the gunman.
The report comes after a lack of transparency from law enforcement agencies and local authorities and a piecemeal learning by victims’ families of what more they should have done to save their loved ones.
Those who attended the three-hour meeting pointed fingers at the group on Monday night.
Parent Bret Cross asked the board why Arredondo, who is on administrative leave, was not fired, “Why does he still have a job with you?”
“If he’s not fired by tomorrow afternoon, I want your resignation and every one of your board members,” he said, “because you all don’t give a damn about our kids or us. Stand with us or against us. We’re not going anywhere.”
The board will make a decision on Arredondo’s employment in a closed session, District Superintendent Hal Harrell said, awaiting the report and its findings, which will be considered.
Several other speakers urged the committee to suspend Arredondo.
The young student says she wants to feel safe before going back
Tina Quintanilla-Taylor introduced her daughter Mehle, who said on the board that she was wearing the same outfit she wore to school on May 24.
“It was the last dress all my friends saw me in,” she said. “Most of those kids were my friends…and I don’t want to go to your guys’ school unless you’re safe.”
Martinez asked the board if it was going to take responsibility for the May 24 failures.
“Are you going to fix this?” she asked.
She wondered what options students and parents would have if they didn’t want to go to school, saying her daughter said she was “very scared” about going back to class.
“I can assure you that my children are not mentally ready to return to campus and neither my husband nor I want to send them. I speak for my children, but I also speak for other parents in the community. I am.”
Jasmine Casares, sister of shooting victim Jackie Casares and a high school student, said nothing can be done to bring her sister back, but the school board can make changes to prevent other families from losing children. She also questioned how safe she could feel.
“I’m going to be a senior. How am I supposed to come back to this school? What are you going to do so that I don’t have to watch my friends die,” she asked. “What are you going to do to make sure I don’t have to wait 77 minutes bleeding on my classroom floor like my little sister?”
Next academic year may be delayed
Asked if the district would consider online learning, Harrell said it was under discussion. “We’re looking into that. And there has to be some structure. But yes, we’re looking at that, and that’s something we’re considering.”
The school board has also recommended delaying the start of the school year to address security issues such as door locks.
Some parents never send their children back. Angel Garza, father of victim Ameri Joe Garza, said his son will not return, but will be homeschooled.
“It’s hard for any parent to sit here and trust these people, they’re going to drop their kid off at school in the morning and they’re going to be there to pick them up when they get off work,” he told CNN.
“We’re not going back to that campus,” Harrell said during a special meeting of the board of trustees, adding that he expects the school to have a new address “in the near future.”
“Our kids, our staff, we’re not going back.”
CNN’s Dakin Andone contributed to this report.