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Onto the next battle: Uvalde families focused on future following UCISD police suspension

Uvalde families say they don't take pleasure in Friday's announcement, but see it as a productive first step towards transparency and accountability.

UVALDE, Texas — "We will move forward to the next battle". 

Those words were tweeted Friday night by Brett Cross. He's the father of Uziyah Garcia, who died in a shooting May 24 inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

This follows the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District's announcement that they are suspending the entire UCISD Police Department.

In the days leading to this decision, parents of the children who died camped out for 245 hours outside of the district's administration office demanding officers be held accountable.

Jesse Rizo, the uncle of 9-year-old Jackie Cazares, says he doesn't take pleasure in the decision, saying nobody wins in this case.

"The children can't come home, people have to retire early, people get placed into suspension," he explained. "But it's something called transparency, and something called accountability."

Also sent in a memo Friday, the possibility District Superintendent, Dr. Hal Harrell, will retire.

Kimberly Mata-Rubio, the mother of 10-year-old Lexi Rubio, says these developments are just one piece of the puzzle that must be solved.

"We still haven't heard what involvement the Uvalde Police Department had, why some of their officers are still patrolling our streets, taking security jobs," said Rubio. "DPS is investigating, but we don't know who they're investigating other than Officer Elizondo. There's a lot of missing pieces."

Rubio says she has mixed feelings about Dr. Harrell's possible retirement, but plans to be present at Monday's board meeting when the matter will be discussed for the first time.

She added, there's still so many questions that need answers and families are owed an explanation.

"I wanna know what time did the officers get there, what information were they told and how did they respond with that information? There's a lot that we still have questions about," said Rubio.

While UCISD officers are under suspension, they will fill other roles in the district.

In a letter to UCISD staff Friday, the district also announced that acting UCISD Police Chief, Lt. Mike Hernandez and Director of Student Services, Ken Mueller, are on administrative leave. Mueller chose to retire instead.

"We are pleased with this, but it's not over yet," said Rizo. "You still don't know the why."

Rizo says it's imperative we learn how we got to where we are today and that the district makes more informed decisions when hiring new employees.

He believes it's time for Dr. Harrell to retire.

"Dr. Harrell is a nice man, a very well-liked man. He's been with the community for a very long time, but unfortunately this tragedy was mismanaged from the beginning - even before May 24," said Rizo.

As for who will be filling the void of UCISD officers, the district requested additional troopers to be on their campuses. DPS will also help patrol extracurricular activities.

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