UVALDE, Texas (NEXSTAR) — During the Robb Elementary School mass shooting, which left 19 children and two teachers dead, a campus lockdown alert was delayed, partially because of the school district’s alert system. However, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District has not replaced the system, which lawmakers cite as one of the key communication failures during the shooting.
UCISD’s alert system, Raptor, is a phone app for staff to use in the event of lockdowns, evacuations and other emergencies. The district’s interim superintendent, Gary Patterson, confirmed that Raptor is still the alert system used by faculty and staff on campus.
According to the House Committee investigative report into the shooting, how the Raptor system operates, in conjunction with other repeated alerts, contributed to a “culture of complacency.”
With the district’s proximity to Highway 83 and 90 near the Texas-Mexico border, there were frequent “bailouts” that occurred near the school and caused area campuses to go on lockdown. The report describes a “bailout” as happening when vehicles smuggling migrants lead authorities on high-speed chases, ending with a vehicle crash for occupants to “bail out” of the car, or scatter.
In the event of bailouts, lockdowns in the district would occur. However, the report notes the Raptor system “does not differentiate its signals between bailouts and other kinds of alerts, such as an active shooter situation.”
Additionally, because the Raptor system is activated via a phone app, faculty at Uvalde CISD “did not always reliably receive the Raptor alerts” either because of poor wi-fi or teachers not carrying their phones.
Uvalde parent Adam Martinez said he was shocked when he learned the district is still using the Raptor system after a meeting with the interim superintendent.
“Parents are furious. They want to put trust in them and they do things like this,” Martinez said. “I worry about it all the time.”
His son, who is now homeschooled due to trauma, was a student at Robb Elementary. But Martinez’s daughter still attends school in the district. He said he worries about students being unnecessarily re-traumatized by a system that does not differentiate in alerts for lockdowns that are related to bailouts or other non-shooter alerts.
“It’s not necessary to re-traumatize a child when it’s just a fire drill,” Martinez said. “They’re thinking the worst, the kids are thinking the worst — ‘Oh, crap, is this an active shooter situation?'”
Nexstar asked UCISD if it has not replaced Raptor due to financial reasons.
“There are certainly financial barriers, but as of now, we are looking at additional training as well as additional security steps in the operating system,” Patterson said in an email to Nexstar.