UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) — The Texas House Investigative Committee on Sunday released a 77-page report into the Robb Elementary mass school shooting, detailing the events — and failures — that happened May 24.
In a follow-up news conference with Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin Sunday evening, it was revealed a Spanish translation of the report wouldn’t be available for up to two weeks, with McLaughlin adding he’d work to speed up that process.
That delay is inexcusable, said Teresa Granillo, CEO of the nonprofit Avance, Inc., which services Latino communities across Texas, including Uvalde. But the delayed Spanish translation of the report also speaks to a broader equity issue for Latino communities within and beyond Uvalde, she said.
“If you have resources in a community, and those resources are not available in the community’s native language, then it’s almost like you don’t have them,” she said.
Nearly 82% of Uvalde residents are Hispanic or Latino, according to 2020 Census data. Of approximately 15,000 residents, nearly 57% of residents ages 5 and older speak a language other than English at home.
As a nonprofit, Avance focuses its effort on providing early education and career readiness programs to children and their families, currently servicing 200 Uvalde families. Part of that programming is a critical emphasis on meeting families where they’re at linguistically but also celebrating Latino culture and bilingualism as an asset.
That emphasis on family within Avance’s programming is also felt within the Uvalde community as a whole, Granillo said. Uvalde has always been a tight-knit community, she said; the magnitude of the Robb Elementary children extends beyond the immediate family, friends and loved ones that knew the 19 children and two teachers killed.
Avance’s Uvalde team includes a former assistant principal of Robb Elementary. Six children killed in the massacre had attended Avance’s head start programming.
“It definitely hits very close to home, for many of our staff, who’ve worked with those babies and helped those babies in the past,” she said. “It was a crisis and a tragedy that everybody nationwide has had a spotlight on, but the reality is that this community will never be the same.”
From an equity standpoint, the delayed release of a Spanish translation of the report and the lack of press conferences held in Spanish further exacerbate the pain of these victims’ families and community members, Granillo said. From a law enforcement investigation’s standpoint, it’s a failure to effectively serve the community, former Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told KXAN.
“When you think about Uvalde and the fact that it is a predominantly Hispanic community and a lot of the older generation don’t speak English or don’t read it well enough or understand it well enough to understand and comprehend the report? It’s disappointing,” he said. “Especially when you think about the fact that it’s very easy to actually get translation services.”
He said the lack of accessible reports or news conferences delivered in Spanish speaks to an administrative issue that, from a community policing perspective, delays healing within the community. As Uvalde receives funding for victims’ families and community healing resources, that bilingual element will be critical moving forward, Acevedo added.
He said all funding for victims of violent crimes and their families needs to have forms available in both English and Spanish, as well as officials available throughout the process who can speak to the families in their native language.
But not only is it important that immediate resources are available in Spanish, but that long-term healing efforts are culturally-responsive to community members, Granillo added.
“Within our culture, it’s not necessarily the norm to go seek mental health services from a community health center or a mental health facility,” she said. “I truly believe that we need to embed culturally responsive, trained social work staff in the different community organizations and in schools and environments where our families already feel safe and connected.”
In Uvalde, Dr. David Valdez serves as chief medical officer of Community Health Development, Inc., the city’s sole community center. Granillo said additional funds coming to the city need to expand its mental healthcare access and the number of social workers.
“We need to identify those different community organizations, like Chicanos Por La Casa, that we know families go to and they feel good there,” she said. “I want to emphasize the culturally-responsive type of mental health care — that workers can meet our families and children where they’re at with a non-judgmental approach and really, truly walk through this process with them.”