A school board meeting that will determine whether Uvalde school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo’s employment will be terminated was delayed for the second time on Wednesday over “a scheduling conflict,” officials confirmed.
The hearing was set to be held Thursday having already been rescheduled from the original date of July 23.
According to Anne Marie Espinoza, executive director of communications and marketing for the district, Arredondo’s attorney requested the hearing be postponed because of the scheduling conflict, and the district agreed to do so.
“During the delay, Pete Arredondo will continue to remain on unpaid leave until a new date and time can be scheduled for the proposed termination hearing,” Espinoza noted.
The postponed hearing comes over two months after 19 children and two adults were killed during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
Arredondo, who was one of the first responders on the scene, was placed on administrative leave in June following growing criticism over his handling of the shooting and his decision not to immediately breach the classroom where gunman Salvador Ramos was fatally shooting students.
During state Senate hearings in June, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw said officers waited for 77 minutes before killing Ramos.
Meanwhile, the Texas state House of Representatives on July 17 published a 77-page report noting that there were systemic failures across the board by law enforcement who responded to the incident on May 24.
“There is no one to whom we can attribute malice or ill motives. Instead, we found systemic failures and egregious poor decision making,” the report said.
However, the committee also determined that Arredondo had “failed to perform or to transfer to another person the role of incident commander” on the day of the shooting.
“This was an essential duty he had assigned to himself in the plan mentioned above, yet it was not effectively performed by anyone,” the report states. “The void of leadership could have contributed to the loss of life as injured victims waited over an hour for help, and the attacker continued to sporadically fire his weapon.”
McCraw has blamed Arredondo for police waiting over an hour before killing Ramos despite there being “a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract, and neutralize the subject.”
Arredondo defended his actions on the day of the shooting in an interview with The Texas Tribune, stating that a missing key to a locked classroom door was the reason why law enforcement took over an hour to take down Ramos.
Lt. Mariano Pargas, who was the acting lieutenant on duty on the day of the mass shooting at the school was also placed on administrative leave in July.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin confirmed the leave in a statement published on July 17 in which he noted that the city has a responsibility to evaluate how the Uvalde Police Department responded to the shooting, including Pargas’s role as acting chief.
In late July, the principal of Robb Elementary School, Mandy Gutierrez, was placed on paid administrative leave before being reinstated three days later.