Engineering firm’s report finds flaws in wall installation at Shields

Niven says responsible parties will be held accountable

Hunter Fletcher and Erin Cristales, Staff

It was only 30 minutes after arriving home from the holidays that Red Oak ISD Superintendent Scott Niven received the call that Donald T. Shields Elementary had been hit by the tornado that ripped through Glenn Heights on Dec. 26.

The cost of the damage to the school is unknown at this time, he said, but “it is in the millions.”

“Roof A/C units came off, walls came down,” Niven said. “That is a lot of the cost.”

Over the next few days, Niven got hit with more bad news: According to engineer Timothy Marshall — who was volunteering as part of a survey team created by the Fort Worth office of the National Weather Service to assess damage after the tornado — the walls that fell at Shields had not been securely fastened to the school’s steel structure.

As questions arose about what might have happened had students and staff been at school when the tornado hit, the district hired a third-party inspector, Lavi & Associates, to inspect the damage. On Jan. 28, Red Oak ISD issued a news release stating that the installation of some of the exterior walls at Shields were not installed properly by Ratcliff Constructors, and the flaws were not caught by the inspection agency provided by the City of Glenn Heights.

“I want you to know that this information is unacceptable for Red Oak ISD,” Niven said in the release. “Our students, staff, parents and community deserve nothing but the best in their schools. We will hold the responsible parties accountable as we rebuild our school.

“When it comes to student and staff safety,” Niven continued, “no stone will be unturned in this process.”

The contractor hired by the district to rebuild Shields is Cadence McShane, who also built Red Oak High School. Niven said he expects Shields at Ovilla to be reopened by fall of this year.

To read every report that Red Oak ISD has received about the damage to Shields, along with the formal press release, click HERE.