In February, Adam Martinez, the parent of a Robb Elementary School shooting survivor, was banned Uvalde school board meetings following his public criticism of the school district’s hiring of a certain police officer. However, following the threat of legal action, the school district has now backtracked and lifted its ban on Martinez.
Following the 2022 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Martinez, like many parents whose children survived the tragedy, became a vocal critic of the Uvalde Police Department, which had attracted national attention for his failure act quickly when filming began.
On February 13, Martinez attended a school board meeting of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD) with the intention of expressing his opposition to the district’s decision to hire a police officer that the county sheriff’s office d’Uvalde had judged him “ineligible for rehiring”.
During the meeting, Martinez approached UCISD Chief of Police Joshua Gutierrez and criticized the decision to hire the new officer. Although Gutierrez told Martinez to sit down, Martinez continued to talk to him. According to a letter Sent to the school district’s board of trustees by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a First Amendment nonprofit, video recordings of the meeting show the conversation remained “quiet and n ‘didn’t disrupt the meeting’.
However, that didn’t stop Gutierrez from fighting back. According to FIRE’s letter, he “went on a rampage denying Mr. Martinez access to all school district property and escorting Mr. Martinez and his family out of the building.” The following day, the ban was formalized when UCISD Acting Superintendent Gary Patterson sent Martinez a “formal criminal trespassing warning barring him from all school district property, including school board meetings. , during two years”.
FIRE sent the letter to the board in May asking for the ban on Martinez to be lifted, threatening legal action if the school refused.
“UCISD banned Mr. Martinez simply for raising concerns about who the school district was hiring to protect the district’s children, an issue of understandable importance to Uvalde’s parents, like Mr. Martinez. This in doing so, UCISD has violated and continues to violate the First Amendment,” the notice reads. “There is little doubt that had Mr. Martinez approached Chief Gutierrez at the school board meeting in February 13 and praised his performance, Mr. Martinez would not face a criminal trespassing warning.”
While the letter demanded a response by May 22, the school district agreed to lift its ban last week.
“School district administrators exceeded their authority,” FIRE attorney Josh Bleisch said in a Friday. Press release. “We’re glad they’ve finally come to their senses, but it shouldn’t take the threat of a lawsuit to remind them that the Constitution does not allow them to use their power to silence their critics.”
However, district officials seem hardly repentant for their attempt to stifle criticism.
“The District was unwilling to pursue legal action, which would require staff time and taxpayer resources in a frivolous lawsuit,” a UCISD spokesperson said. said THE Uvalde Leader-News“The District has attempted to work with Mr. Martinez over the past several months, complying and approving every request he has made…. Instead, he chose to engage FIRE to threaten legal action.”
The spokesperson added that after the ban was lifted, Martinez was “told that the ban may be reinstated if there were recurrences of the behaviors exhibited at the February board meeting.” .