LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — A veteran educator is fighting to get her job back.
Harns Marsh Middle School Assistant Principal Vivian Gutierrez was demoted to a teaching position after a student brought a gun and loaded magazine to school. Lee County Schools says she mishandled the situation.
A sixth grader brought a semi-automatic gun and loaded magazine to the school on December 20, 2019.
No one was hurt, the student was charged with a felony, and Gutierrez lost her position as Assistant Principal. The district, say she failed to notify the principal and SRO in a timely manner.
Gutierrez’s daughter Haylie Gutierrez stated a change.org petition to get her mom reinstated as assistant principal. She said her mom was told that student had a BB gun, which she also told Lee County Sheriff’s Office according to their investigation.
“She did not realize she was responding to a lethal weapon,” she said.
Gutierrez escorted the student from his classroom to her office.
“She handled it in a pretty calm manner. Throughout that time, that student didn’t attempt to argue with her, to get away from her, to reach for the weapon,” said Haylie Gutierrez.
The district’s investigation revealed while Gutierrez walked with the student from the third floor to her office on the first floor, the gun and loaded magazine were inside the backpack he was carrying.
“That magazine was not inside of the gun. So, that child would’ve had to reach into the backpack, pull out the gun, pull out the magazine, load it, before he could start doing anything,” said Gutierrez.
She said her mom was prepared to restrain the child if it escalated to that, and she handled it in a timely manner.
“All of this happened in less than 15 minutes,” she said.
But Lee County Schools said that’s too long. A detailed log of the school’s video cameras on December 20th reveals she was notified of the gun at 1:31 p.m. and does not notify the School Resource Officer until 1:43 p.m., and did not tell the principal at all during that time.
But, Gutierrez says the district’s policy requiring personnel to notify principals of security hazards is too vague.
“I’m really looking for too is for the district to make sure that they have clear policies that instruct this and that there is training for how to respond when there is an inactive shooter on campus,” she said.
“My mother should be reinstated back to her assistant principal position at Harns Marsh Middle School, because she saved lives that day,” she said.
Gutierrez plans to speak during Tuesday’s school board meeting to ask for her mom’s job back.