In the hours before a 6-year-old boy shot and injured a teacher, worried staff at a Virginia elementary school warned administrators three times that the boy had a gun and was threatening other students. However, the administration was paralyzed by apathy and didn’t call police, remove the boy from class, or lock down the school, the injured teacher’s lawyer said Wednesday.
Later that day, the school board decided to terminate George Parker III, the superintendent of the school district. As part of the separation agreement, Parker would receive a little over $502,000 in severance money, or two years of his $251,000 annual salary. Since the shooting on January 6, Parker has come under harsh fire from parents and educators.
Abigail Zwerner’s attorney, Diane Toscano, said at a press conference that she has informed the Newport News school board that the 25-year-old Richneck Elementary School teacher intends to sue the school system over the shooting, which left Zwerner with significant injuries.
On that day, over the course of a few hours, school administration was alerted by worried instructors and staff that the youngster was threatening people and had a gun on him at the school. However, the administration seemed uninterested, according to Toscano.
She claimed that Zwerner reported the boy’s threat to beat up another youngster to an administrator for the first time at 11:15 a.m. on the day of the shooting, but no action was taken.
A teacher searched the youngster’s bookbag on her own about an hour later and informed an administration that she suspected the boy had put the gun in his pocket before to stepping outside for recess, according to Toscano.
According to Toscano,the administrator minimized the teacher’s report and the potential presence of a pistol by remarking, and I quote, Well, he has little pockets.
A different youngster who was sobbing and afraid told an administrator shortly after 1 p.m. that the boy had shown him the gun during recess and threatened to shoot him if he told anybody else. Again, she claimed that nothing was done.
According to Toscano, a different staffer requested a search of the youngster from an official after learning the boy might have a pistol.
He was instructed to wait it out because the end of the school day was approaching, according to her.
Within an hour, Abby Zwerner was shot in front of those terrified youngsters, and the school and community are suffering the nightmare, all because the school administration refused to intervene,” Toscano claimed.
They could have stopped this disaster if they weren’t so gripped by apathy, the speaker claimed.
Michelle Price, a spokeswoman for the school system, declined to comment.
Price stated in an email that she was unable to comment on the assertions made by Ms. Zwerner’s attorney at this time because the school division’s inquiry was still underway.
The shooting shocked Newport News, a city of about 185,000 people located about 70 miles (113 kilometers) southeast of Richmond, and sparked concerns about security at the school.
Parker’s resignation was anticipated because the school board was scheduled to vote on his separation package on Tuesday, according to an agenda that was posted online. The board has chosen to “terminate the Contract and Superintendent’s Employment,” according to the separation and severance agreement.
The board approved the arrangement by a vote of 5-1 after several members lauded Parker’s prior work as superintendent.
Gary Hunter, a board member, spoke in favor of Parker for a considerable amount of time as several audience members moaned and encouraged him to go on. Hunter asserted that the true issue is the absence of “commonsense gun restrictions,” and that Parker is being unfairly held responsible for the shooting.
Hunter remarked, Getting rid of someone is not going to fix this specific situation.
In accordance with the agreement, board Chair Lisa Surles-Law issued a statement from the board stating that Parker’s termination was made without cause and that Parker is a capable division head who has devoted nearly five years to the school district “during some difficult times.
The youngster may have had a weapon on the day of the shooting, according to Parker, but none was discovered when his backpack was inspected. Parker has claimed that at least one administrator was informed of this. According to the police, school administrators failed to inform them of the tip before to the incident, which took place many hours later.
The incidents that Toscano detailed were “beyond horrible,” according to Newport News middle school teacher Cindy Connell.
The only reason we’re talking about this incident is because Abby Zwerner was shot, according to Connell. “This is simply another example of administrators not listening to the concerns of instructors,” Connell said.
Any administrator who was repeatedly informed that this youngster has a weapon or we fear this child has a weapon and did nothing should be fired, in my opinion.
The boy pointed his gun at Zwerner and fired one round, hitting her in the hand and chest, according to Police Chief Steve Drew, who has called the shooting intentional on numerous occasions. Zwerner spent almost two weeks in the hospital, but is currently recuperating at home, according to Toscano.
Toscano added, The road to full recovery will be long, and the psychological scars will be permanent.
According to the authorities, the gun used in the incident was legally acquired by the boy’s mother. In a statement released last week, the boy’s family claimed that the rifle was secured. James Ellenson, the family’s attorney, told The Associated Press that he believed the gun was in the woman’s closet on a shelf that was nearly 6 feet (1.8 meters) high and was secured with a trigger lock that needed a key.
The youngster had a acute impairment, according to the family, and was under a care plan that involved his mother or father visiting school with him and accompanying him to class every day, according to the statement. The week of the shooting marked the first time he had attended class without a parent, according to the family.
The boy’s family, represented by James Ellenson, issued a statement on Wednesday in which they wished Ms. Zwerner “a complete and full recovery.”
Our thoughts are with everyone involved, Ellenson said.
The school will reopen the following week after being closed since the shooting. Karen Lynch, a longstanding principal in the Newport News school system, said on Monday that she had been chosen a administration on special assignment at Richneck.
Administrators and instructors held an Open House at the school on Wednesday in advance of the reopening to allow students and their families to meet the staff and take part in activities. Students were encouraged by signs that said You’ve got this, We are Praying for You, and You are Loved along the sidewalks in front of the school.
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