An inspector posing as an intruder was able to gain access to a school cafeteria during a campus safety audit in Uvalde, Texas, this month, an unnerving revelation in a community still reeling after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in May.
Gary Patterson, the interim superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, shared the findings of the "intruder selection audit" at a school board meeting Monday.
Patterson told the board that the district recently got a call informing it that three of its schools were selected for the security check.
“They attempted to gain access on three of our campuses over a two-day period," Patterson said, adding that he could not share which schools they were. "There was access gained on one exterior door at a campus that was in a cafeteria loading dock area.”
Patterson said a delivery truck was backed up toward the loading dock door while the auditor was trying to gain access. The door was open and closed a few times by people making the delivery, and the latch did not secure the door because it was not closed hard enough.
The auditor tugged at the door and it opened, allowing access to the cafeteria. Staff members in the cafeteria stopped the auditor.
No students were in the cafeteria at the time.
"That really is 100% my responsibility to see that didn’t happen,” Patterson said. “The delivery of goods into loading docks was just something, quite honestly, that I overlooked. But I won’t overlook it next time."
Patterson said the security check brings attention to two things: a faulty door and the importance of securing loading areas while deliveries are being made.
Uvalde's security audit is part of a statewide program implemented by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to randomly assess schools' security protocols in the wake of the Robb Elementary massacre.
“Overall, you know, not as successful as we had liked, but we are making progress," Patterson said of the audit.
The district will address the security breach by checking doors in loading areas and training staff members before classes resume next month, he said.
Patterson also detailed other security measures the district wishes to implement, including installing new doors and security gates. Efforts to do so have been affected by supply chain issues, he said.