Uvalde CISD approves interim police chief, site of new elementary school

The move comes three months after embattled former district Police Chief Pete Arredondo was fired.

SAN ANTONIO — The turnover continues at Uvalde CISD, where school board members on Wednesday night approved Josh Gutierrez as the district’s interim police chief. 

The development comes nearly a month after the board installed interim Superintendent Gary Patterson, and three months after former Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo was fired following a summer of intense scrutiny over his on-site leadership at Robb Elementary on May 25. A gunman was inside the school for over an hour on that day, eventually killing 21 people, including 19 children. 

Former Superintendent Hal Harrell retired in October upon the school board’s appointing of Patterson, who has fostered a reputation as a sort of fixer for Texas districts navigating turmoil. 

Patterson’s first meeting at the helm in Uvalde took a different tone than those of the last several months; it was calmer and forward-focused, anchored by a promise of communication with the community. 

“My observation as an outsider is many times we’ve seen this room filled with a lack of trust, anger and frustration,” Patterson told those in the room Wednesday night. “My hope is we can all work to make that better.”

It took him nearly four minutes to read through the accolades collected by Gutierrez, whom Patterson worked with previously at East Central ISD. Those include a Master Peace Officer certification from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE); a teacher’s and principal’s certification; a certification in special education; and time served as a TCOLE instructor, associate principal and assistant principal, as well as various committees. 

After the introduction, some parents of Uvalde CISD children joked the new chief is overqualified for the position, but also expressed hope the move starts them on a path of restoring their trust in the district. 

“He brings a very unique perspective to the job that I’ve never seen,” Patterson said. 

Site for new school approved

The school board also approved a recommended site for a new, two-story school that will effectively replace Robb Elementary once it’s torn down. It’ll be built next to Dalton Elementary, where some former Robb students now go. 

“With this evening’s approval of the site and conceptual design by the UCISD school board, we now move to the schematic design phase of the project,” Uvalde CISD Moving Forward Foundation officials said in a statement. 

“My observation as an outsider is many times we’ve seen this room filled with a lack of trust, anger and frustration,”  he said to community members and district officials in the room. “My hope is we can all work to make that better.”

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