SANTA FE, Texas - A memorial to honor the lives of 10 people killed in the Santa Fe High School shooting has been voted down by the district’s board of trustees. The decision has outraged the victims' families.
During a board meeting Monday, family, friends and loved ones of the Santa Fe Fallen 10 pleaded with school board trustees to continue building the memorial on campus grounds.
Instead, the board voted to scrap those plans after four years, citing legal and financial concerns long term.
The decision blindsided Gail McLeod, Rosie Stone and Shannen Claussen. Their sons Kyle McLeod, Chris Stone and Christian Riley Garcia were three of the 10 shot and killed on May 18, 2018.
For the last four years, the moms have been working with Santa Fe 10 Memorial Foundation to build, design and construct a $1.6 million permanent memorial.
McLeod, Stone and Claussen said Monday was the first time they learnt the memorial would not be built on campus grounds.
"I feel really betrayed by the school district. For four years, we’ve been led to believe one thing. And then they keep giving us excuses after excuses. They keep pulling apart our memorial," Stone said.
"No, you can’t have a trial. No, you can’t have a memorial. No, you can’t hold anyone accountable. No, you can’t have your information. At one point, is enough?" Stone continued.
"We are the forgotten school shooting. We were under the impression the whole time that it was going to be in front of the school. That’s what the designs were based on, that’s what all of our hard work was based on," McLeod said.
"I was informed that ‘well we had to answer the taxpayers, and we are in a deficit.’ So, my son’s life doesn’t matter because of your choices and your deficit," Claussen said.
Over the phone, Santa Fe ISD Board President Rusty Norman said the decision was difficult, but one that was needed to be made. Norman said trustees would now work with the city to find a possible new location for the memorial, meaning the project would have to start over.
"This is going to create more of a deficit for the memorial foundation. We have the electrical planned out, we have the drainage planned out, all that planned out that’s been services donated to us and we have to start completely over if they move," Claussen said.
Board officials estimate that maintaining the memorial would cost about $190,000 over the course of 10 years, or roughly $19,000 per year on average. It's money the board says they don't have in the budget.
Currently, Santa Fe High School has the 'Unfillable Chair' Memorial in the front of the school and another statue that's scheduled to be erected in May on the 5-year anniversary of the shooting.