The embattled Uvalde school police chief, Pete Arredondo, boycotted a school board meeting where he was fired, saying he was threatened with physical violence after his name was unfairly smeared.
The board of directors for the consolidated independent school district of Uvalde voted unanimously Wednesday night to sack Arredondo as head of the district’s police department. His resignation comes after months of scathing criticism that his response to the May 24 elementary school shooting in the small Texas community was overly cautious and increased the death toll.
After the Robb Elementary School shooting in which a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers, the school district faced mounting pressure to fire Arredondo. Arredondo has been on administrative leave since June 22 and has had to give up his recently won seat on Uvalde City Council.
Public anger at Arredondo was also evident during Wednesday’s special education board hearing, when community members denounced the police chief and criticized the district. A student asked why the police didn’t protect her friends during the shooting.
“Give in your ID and stand back,” the student demanded to applause. “You don’t deserve to wear one.”
After meeting with counsel in closed session, the board returned to the open session to vote on terminating Arredondo’s contract for “good cause” on the recommendation of District Superintendent Hal Harrell. Board members offered no further explanation for the vote at the hearing.
George Hyde, Arredondo’s lawyer, earlier Wednesday filed a letter to the board saying the boss had refused “to take part in his own illegal and unconstitutional public lynching”. The 17-page letter, provided to The Texas Tribune, called for Arredondo to be reinstated with back pay.
While the board confirmed on Wednesday that Arredondo had requested a hearing to clear his name, the letter said the district had improperly erected administrative hurdles to prevent this. Hyde’s letter also said his client refused to attend the meeting and accused the district of not doing enough to ensure his safety in the face of credible death threats.
“Despite knowing legitimate dangers to the public and to Chief Arredondo and anyone else who wishes to be present, the district revokes the chief’s right to lawfully bear a weapon while failing to disclose alternative and reliable security measures,” the district said Writing, “Considering the district’s actions as a whole, the district has successfully gagged Chief Arredondo to the point where he is no longer able to participate.”
The letter accused the district of violating Arredondo’s constitutional rights to free speech and due process.
Surveillance footage released last month showing police lingering in the school hallway for more than an hour while the shooter was locked in a classroom reignited anger in the community.
But the letter defended Arredondo’s reaction to the shooting, saying he reacted cautiously after realizing the gunman was capable of firing through the school’s walls.
news week has reached out to Hyde and the District for comment.
https://www.newsweek.com/pete-arredondo-cites-safety-fear-skips-his-firing-uvalde-school-hearing-1736723 Pete Arredondo cites security fears, skips his shooting at Uvalde school hearing