Connect with us

News

Uvalde School Officials Approve Terms of Superintendent’s Retirement Without Publicly Disclosing Them

Published

on

By Uriel J. García, The Texas Tribune

Uvalde school officials approve terms of superintendent’s retirement without publicly disclosing them” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.

UVALDE — The Uvalde school board approved the terms of Superintendent Hal Harrell’s retirement Wednesday, but did not disclose any details of his exit as leader of a school district still reeling from the worst school shooting in Texas history.

When voting on the retirement terms, trustees referred to discussions that happened behind closed doors during an executive session that lasted hours. Trustees then quickly announced that Gary Patterson would be the interim superintendent. But trustees did not say when Harrell’s departure would take effect or when Patterson would begin as his interim replacement.

The votes capped a meeting that got heated when residents and families of Robb Elementary shooting victims were not allowed to make public comments about school safety and other matters. On May 24, an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at the elementary school.

For months, some family members of shooting victims called for Harrell’s resignation, arguing that he, and many other school officials, should be held responsible for failing to prepare for a school shooting. A Texas House committee investigation into the shooting provided a damning portrayal of a school district that had strayed from strict adherence to its safety plan and a police response that disregarded its own active shooter training.

The board on Wednesday also approved plans for the search for a long-term superintendent, but again only referred to terms disclosed behind closed doors without publicly disclosing them. Officials said details about the search process will be posted on the district’s website in about a week.

At the start of the meeting, some parents and relatives of the victims and survivors of the May 24 shooting wanted to make comments about safety plans, and what role school board member J.J. Suarez would play in the search for a new superintendent. Suarez is a former Uvalde police officer who worked at Southwest Texas Junior College as division chair of allied health and human services when he responded to the shooting at Robb Elementary.

Residents were interrupted by the board’s lawyer and board members saying some of the parents had not previously signed up to make public comments or their comments were not relevant to the agenda items.

Attendees shouted at the lawyer to let people speak. The board abruptly ended the public comment period and went behind closed doors to discuss the details about Harrell’s retirement. After three hours, the board came out to announce Patterson as the interim superintendent. Reporters were cordoned off from audience members and trustees throughout the meeting.

Harrell announced his decision to retire just under two weeks ago. His pending departure is the latest in a series of school officials who have left, often unwillingly, since the shooting.

After the gunman entered the school May 24, hundreds of law enforcement officers from several local, state and federal agencies descended on the campus. Despite the urgent pleas from officers and parents amassed outside, officers inside the school stayed put outside the classrooms where the gunman massacred his 21 victims. Officers waited more than an hour before confronting the gunman, contradicting law enforcement doctrine dictating that officers immediately confront active shooters.

Just prior to Harrell announcing his retirement earlier this month, school officials suspended the entire district police department after protesters held a dayslong protest outside the Uvalde CISD administrative building during which demonstrators called for the removal of all district officers until investigations into the police department’s response to the shooting are complete.

That suspension of the small police force came on the heels of school officials firing a recently hired district police officer after it became public that she was one of the first state troopers to arrive at Robb Elementary on May 24.

In August, the school district fired the head of the police department, Pete Arredondo, who was widely criticized for his response to the shooting. Last month, the Texas Department of Public Safety said it was investigating five of its 91 officers who responded to the shooting.

William Melhado contributed to this story.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/10/19/uvalde-superintendent-retirement-hal-harrell/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

News

‘Incompetently Bad’: Judge Cannon’s Latest Move ‘Approaching This Level of Stupid’

Published

on

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s latest move in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Espionage Act prosecution of Donald Trump appears to have at least one legal expert throwing up his hands in disbelief.

Back in February, Trump’s legal team claimed Special Counsel Jack Smith’s appointment was unlawful, as is the method of funding his office and his investigations.

“Neither the Constitution nor Congress have created the office of the ‘Special Counsel,'” Trump’s attorneys wrote, CBS News had reported, “arguing the attorney general did not have the proper authority to name Smith to the job.”

“The authority he attempts to employ as Special Counsel far exceeds the power exercisable by a non-superior officer, the authority that Congress has not cloaked him with,” they claimed. There are decades of precedence of Attorneys General appointing special counsels, special prosecutors, or independent counsels – possibly the most well-known being Ken Starr who investigated then-President Bill Clinton.

READ MORE: Alito’s Opinion in a 2022 Christian Flag Case Flies in the Face of His Recusal Refusal

CBS News also noted that “Garland cited numerous laws and regulations that he and other attorneys general have said confer necessary authority onto the selected prosecutors.”

Issuing her latest edict, Judge Cannon, who likely has already delayed the trial until after the 2024 election, responded to the Trump legal team’s challenge of Smith’s appointment on Thursday.

“Judge Cannon is giving Trump’s legal team and the government 12 days to tell her how the SCOTUS decision upholding the CFPB’s funding/appointment impacts Trump’s claim that Jack Smith was unlawfully appointed and funded…,” reports Reuters’ Sarah N. Lynch, who covers the Justice Dept.

The CFPB is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Earlier this month the Supreme Court ruled the methods by which it is funded are constitutional, overturning a lower court’s ruling.

READ MORE: ‘Doesn’t Know Most Basic Rule’: Conway Blasts Cannon Over ‘Perplexed’ Reaction

Constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kreis, mocking Judge Cannon’s order, wrote:

“Jack Smith,

You have 12 days to tell me how what Martha-Ann Alito ate for lunch on May 30, 2024 affects your appointment as special counsel.

Xoxo,

Judge Cannon”

He added, “We’re approaching this level of stupid,” and concluded, “Judge Cannon is incompetently bad.”

Continue Reading

News

‘Giddily Bouncing Off the Walls’: Legal Experts Predict Trump Conviction

Published

on

With the jury dismissed for the day after more than four hours of deliberations and a series of notes to Judge Juan Merchan, legal experts are predicting Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will win his case against Donald Trump, and see jurors convict the ex-president on 34 criminal counts. The ex-president is on trial for allegedly falsifying  business records as a means to cover-up a conspiracy scheme to promote his election to the Presidency by “unlawful means.”

“If I were in the DA’s office I’d be giddily bouncing off the walls right now,” attorney George Conway wrote on social media late Wednesday afternoon.

Minutes later attorney Tristan Snell, who helped secure the New York Attorney General’s $25 million settlement in the Trump University civil case, also predicted a likely Trump conviction:

“BREAKING: Trump jury asks for testimony transcripts, including 3 sections from David Pecker and 1 section from Michael Cohen. VERY bad sign for Trump that David Pecker’s testimony landed with the jury and is something they want to focus on. Jury is likely leaning toward GUILTY.”

READ MORE: ‘No Moral Compass’: Legal Experts Call for Intervention After Alito Refuses to Recuse

National security attorney Brad Moss, appearing on CNN Wednesday afternoon said, “I don’t expect a hung jury but if we get into Friday, or even next week Monday, it certainly would appear that would be more likely what’s going on. But if we have a decision tomorrow, my expectation is it will be a guilty verdict.”

Yale Law School professor of law and professor of philosophy Scott Shapiro offered this short statement:

If Donald Trump is convicted he may be the least surprised, as he appeared to predict a conviction Wednesday morning: “Mother Theresa could not beat these charges,” he told reporters.

The jury returns Thursday at 9:30 AM.

See the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest Felony in American History’: Prosecutor’s Closing Argument Against Trump Praised

Image via Shutterstock

 

Continue Reading

News

‘No Moral Compass’: Legal Experts Call for Intervention After Alito Refuses to Recuse

Published

on

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has formally refused to recuse from any and all cases involving indicted ex-president Donald Trump or the January 6, 2021 attack on the seat of the American government and American democracy itself. Legal experts and elected Democrats, including the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has oversight responsibility of the nation’s highest court, have demanded the George W. Bush-appointed jurist’s recusal. Now, some legal experts say either the Chief Justice or the Senate Judiciary Committee must intervene.

Justice Alito is standing by his now thoroughly debunked story about why a flag associated with the insurrection and the “Stop the Steal” conspiracy was flying at his home just three days before Joe Biden was inaugurated president, and a different, Christian nationalist flag also associated with those efforts to overthrow the government and disenfranchise 81 million Americans was flying at another of his homes.

Responding to a letter sent to Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Alito in his own letter wrote he was “required” to reject Democrats’ request and not recuse himself, despite numerous legal experts citing both law and precedent, declaring he at least should, or must, recuse himself.

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, who writes about the courts and the law, pushed back on Justice Alito’s claim.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest Felony in American History’: Prosecutor’s Closing Argument Against Trump Praised

“Alito reads the Supreme Court’s totally voluntary, non-binding ethics guidelines to impose a seemingly mandatory ‘obligation’ that he sit on any case he’s not recused from.”

Professor of law Steve Vladeck, a CNN contributor, appeared to take that one strep further: “Justice Alito’s insistence in his letters to Congress that he has an ‘obligation to sit’ in the January 6 cases *because* the Code of Conduct says so is an interesting data point for those who have insisted that the Code doesn’t impose *any* requirements on the justices.”

Journalist, author, and foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf observed, “Alito, by saying he should not recuse, demonstrates clearly why he should not be on the court in the first place.”

The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro notes, “As with his statement to the NYT, Alito in his response to Congress never disavows the meaning of the upside down flag that flew over his house for days or its link to the Jan 6th riot/Stop The Steal movement that was at its height during this period. Notably, Alito does deny that link with the Appeal To Heaven flag, but not the upside down flag.”

Saying Alito is “really is a piece of work,” attorney and former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa suggested the justice is flipping the script: “Alito does a Reverse Uno, suggesting that people calling for his recusal are trying to influence the outcome of cases before the Court.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government watchdog, noted: “That Justice Alito responded *at all* to the demand that he recuse from these cases shows the gravity of his misconduct. But this response changes nothing about the ethical issue here. Since he will not recuse on his own, Chief Justice Roberts should intervene.”

READ MORE: Supreme Court ‘Puppetmaster’ Slammed Over Report He’s Flying Alito’s ‘Theocratic’ Flag Again

Constitutional law scholar and professor of law Eric Segall served up a scathing assessment: “To be clear, if we found a love letter written to Donald Trump from Sam Alito saying, ‘Can’t wait till you’re back in office,’ Alito still would not recuse. He has no moral compass at all.”

The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein suggests Democrats will need to take further action: “Alito’s dismissive response, which [Chief Justice John] Roberts is unlikely to challenge in any way, has placed the ball squarely in the court of @SenatorDurbin, @SenSchumer and Senate Democrats.”

CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere, posting a screenshot of Donald Trump’s response to the justice’s decision to not recuse, writes: “Trump thanks Alito for not recusing himself from cases pending about Trump after Alito’s being criticized for a flag flying at his house that has been interpreted as a sign of support for Trump.”

See the social media post above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Wildly Lawless’: Judge Cannon’s Removal Predicted by Top Legal Scholar

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.