UVALDE, Texas (AP) — The superintendent of the Texas school district where a gunman killed 19 elementary school students and two teachers last May announced his retirement Monday, according to his wife’s Facebook page.
In the statement posted to Donna Goates Harrell’s Facebook page, Uvalde school Superintendent Hal Harrell said he would remain in office throughout this school year until the school board hires his successor.
After an executive session, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District board unanimously voted Monday night to begin a search immediately for Harrell’s successor.
The Facebook posting was first reported by CNN. The superintendent asked his wife “to post this message since he doesn’t have Facebook.”
Harrell, the Uvalde school board and other school district officials have faced heavy criticism over the May 24 Robb Elementary School massacre in which officers allowed a shooter with an AR-15-style rifle to remain in a fourth-grade classroom for more than 70 minutes.
“My heart was broken on May 24th and I will always pray for each precious life that was tragically taken and their families,” the Facebook post said.
“My wife and I love you all and this community that we both grew up in, therefore this decision was a difficult one for us. I have been blessed to work among amazing educators and staff who believe in education for more than 30 years, which have all been in our beautiful community. These next steps for our future are being taken after much reflection, and is completely my choice,” Harrell said in the post.
“I am truly grateful for your support and well wishes,” Harrell said.
The announcement came a week after Uvalde school district officials suspended the entire school district police force. That move came a day after the district fired a former state trooper after she was revealed to have not only been on the Robb Elementary School campus during the May attack as a Texas state trooper but was also under investigation over her actions that day.
That the developments all came one month into the new school year in the South Texas community underscores the sustained pressure that families of some of the 19 children and two teachers killed earlier this year have kept on the district.