In Uvalde, Texas, the local schools are part of a complex history of discrimination, activism, progress, and grief for the area’s Mexican-American community.
After the horrific shooting in May 2022, the schools of Uvalde entered a new chapter in the town’s story, one where community advocacy will likely play center stage once again—just as it did many years ago during a 1970 effort to secure better schooling for its Mexican and Mexican-American families.
As families try to figure out how to put the pieces of their lives back together, they’ll be writing the next chapter of this story.
For now, let’s take a look back at a few key events in the history of the community’s relationship with its schools.
A Mexican deputy sheriff wants his children to attend a white school in town, prompting a threatening letter from the Ku Klux Klan.
Students of Crystal City, a neighboring community, hold a walkout demanding better access to quality education. By this time, a national movement for Mexican, Mexican American, and Chicano rights has gathered strength.
April 14, 1970
Uvalde students and parents lead their own walkout demanding more Latino teachers, that Spanish be permitted be spoken in school, and better instruction overall in the schools. That same year, parent activist Genoveva Morales files a lawsuit against the school district for discrimination. It seeks integration of the schools.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit finds that the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District failed to desegregate its schools—reversing in part a previous court opinion. The decision leads to a consent decree issued in 1976, which was later modified several times over the years.
Superintendent Jeanette Ball is hired. During her tenure, which lasts about six years, she develops a dual language program in the district.
The junior high school in the district is named after Genoveva Morales.
The 1970 class action against the Uvalde school district is resolved.
The Uvalde High School valedictorian references school shootings in her graduation speech. That year, 27 people are killed in school shootings, including at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February, and at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas in May.
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Superintendent Hal Harrell says federal relief funding from the coronavirus pandemic will go towards addressing learning gaps, improving the learning environment, and enhancing safety.
2021-22 school year
The district’s dual language program grows into a charter school as demand for the program surges.
May 24, 2022
A mass shooting at Robb Elementary takes the lives of 19 students and 2 teachers.
Sources: Education Week reporting; Uvalde Leader-News
A version of this article appeared in the August 31, 2022 edition of Education Week as Uvalde Schools Aren’t Defined By One Tragedy