The superintendent of a Texas school district has resigned a month after a child found his gun in an elementary school bathroom, a school district official said.
Robby Stuteville had worked for the Rising Star Independent School District for more than three decades, serving as its superintendent for about the last two years, said Monty Jones, the district’s high school principal.
On Jan. 20, Mr. Stuteville accidentally left his gun in a bathroom at Rising Star Elementary School, where it was found by a third-grade student, Mr. Jones said. While he called the incident a “grave mistake,” Mr. Jones emphasized that it was “a sad situation” because Mr. Stuteville was beloved in Rising Star, a small town southeast of Abilene.
“Rising Star lost a good person,” Mr. Jones said. “He was a heck of a superintendent.”
Mr. Stuteville could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday. In an interview with KRBC, he said that his gun was left unattended for about 15 minutes before the student found it.
“There was never a danger other than the obvious,” Mr. Stuteville said in the interview.
He added that guns were a “considerable danger” and that the child had done well “to be on the lookout for any unusual placement of a weapon or anything out of place.”
Mr. Jones said that both he and Mr. Stuteville had the district board’s approval to carry guns and that all students had been informed about this practice. The two men had been carrying guns at school since August, just months after 19 children and two teachers were fatally shot at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in May, Mr. Jones said.
With Abilene, the nearest large city, an hour’s drive from Rising Star, Mr. Jones said, he and other school officials decided to take matters into their own hands to ensure that students were protected. The Uvalde shooting had prompted school officials across Texas to “reassess” safety practices and the role of guns in schools, he said.
“If we are going to take care of our kids and make them feel safe, we have to do it in house,” Mr. Jones said. “What if they pick us next?”
Mr. Jones said he did not know what type of gun Mr. Stuteville had left in the bathroom.
The school district’s board of trustees will consider Mr. Stuteville’s resignation at a meeting on Thursday. The board will also consider whether to appoint Mr. Jones to serve as the district’s interim superintendent starting Monday.
Mr. Jones said that district officials planned to convene a committee to develop new policies for notifying parents of dangerous incidents.
“It could have been a big deal, yes, but it wasn’t,” Mr. Jones said, adding that he believed parents were more upset that they were not formally notified about what had occurred than about the incident itself.