Uvalde school district challenges Pete Arredondo's appeal to upgrade termination record

Arredondo won an appeal by default to clear his record, reports said this week.

February 25, 2023, 2:14 PM

After failing to file papers supporting the less-than-honorable discharge of the former schools police chief blamed for inaction during a Texas school massacre last year, the Uvalde school district has moved to restore the official blemish they had placed on the record of Pete Arredondo.

The district filed for a rehearing following reports this week showing that Arredondo had won an appeal by default when the district did not respond to his official objection last year. Arredondo was fired by the school district in the wake of the botched police response to the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School that claimed the lives of 19 students and two of their teachers.

"They filed the right motion to pick back up and try to defend the original discharge designation," said Luis Soberon, a policy researcher for Texas 2036, the group that first found Arredondo had won an appeal to remove the official blemish from his police record that was made after he was fired by the Uvalde district.

In this May 28, 2022, file photo, flowers and candles are placed around crosses at a memorial outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, to honor the victims killed in the school shooting.
Jae C. Hong/AP, FILE

The Uvalde School District Interim Superintendent Gary Patterson released a statement to the Uvalde Leader News Friday saying that emails from the state about the hearing were missed due to staffing changes in September and October. During those months, the former superintendent retired and the entire school police department was put on suspension, according to Patterson.

Emails were missed, so the district did not appear on January 31 to contest Arredondo's appeal, he said.

The original discharge status, which the district is now fighting to keep, was general, according to Patterson. The default decision, reached on Jan. 31 when the district didn't reply to Arredondo's appeal, upgraded his discharge status to honorable.

According to Soberon, the district had 30 days to file the request for a rehearing. That deadline would have been next week.

In May 24, 2022, file photo, Uvalde police chief Pete Arredondo speaks at a press conference following the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Mikala Compton/Austin American-Statesman via USA Today Network, FILE

"It is fairly safe to say that there will be a hearing now with evidence presented by both sides as to why the discharge status should be upgraded on the part of Pete Arredondo or stay the same on the part of Uvalde CISD," said Soberon.

Arredondo nor his lawyers responded to multiple requests for comment on his termination report appeal.

Another police official on the scene of the May 24 rampage is challenging his discharge status as well. Retired Lt. Mariano Pargas, the acting Uvalde City police chief that day, filed an appeal to upgrade his discharge status from general to honorable at the beginning of December, over two weeks after he left the Uvalde Police Department on the same week officials said they would move to terminate him.

An ABC News investigation based on call recordings and body camera footage found that Pargas knew children were alive in the room with the shooter for at least 30 minutes before police made entry to save them.

Pargas said he could not comment on the appeal and has declined multiple requests for an interview with ABC News, citing an ongoing investigation.

A spokesperson for the City of Uvalde, Gina Eisenberg, said that the city plans to oppose Pargas' appeal and a hearing is scheduled for July. Eisenberg would not provide details about what that opposition would include.