Texas school principal suspended after Uvalde shooting

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden travel to Uvalde, Texas

By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - The principal of the Texas elementary school where a gunman went on a rampage in May has been suspended with pay, her attorney said on Tuesday, two weeks after a damning report about lax security that enabled the shooter to carry out the attack.

Mandy Gutierrez, principal of Robb Elementary School, was placed on administrative leave by Hal Harrell, the Uvalde school district superintendent, on Monday, her attorney Ricardo Cedillo told Reuters.

He offered no specific reason for the suspension which comes two months after the massacre, which killed 19 schoolchildren and two teachers.

The shooting opened up a new wave of debate over the easy access to guns enjoyed by Texans and many other Americans.

"Ms. Gutierrez has no further comment at this time," he said.

The suspension follows the release of a report on an investigation by a Texas legislative committee into the May 24 shooting. It found Gutierrez, who was in her first year as principal of the school, knew about security issues around the school.

"Robb Elementary had a culture of noncompliance with safety policies requiring doors to be kept locked, which turned out to be fatal," the report said, saying that the gunman easily entered the school through an unlocked door.

The report, which marked the most exhaustive attempt so far to determine why it took more than an hour for police to confront and kill the 18-year-old gunman, said "systemic failures" and poor leadership had contributed to the death toll.

The report said Gutierrez and other staff knew that the lock on the door of Room 111 - where the shootings took place - was not working properly, but did not place a work order to get it fixed. That broken lock enabled the gunman to easily enter the classroom, it said.

"If the door to Room 111 had been locked, the attacker likely would have been slowed for some time," the report said.

In addition to Gutierrez, the school district has suspended its police chief, Pete Arredondo, who has been criticized for his handling of the shooting.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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