After a week of school at Newport News, Virginia’s Richneck Elementary, emails between teacher Abby Zwerner and school administrators about “behavioral problems” with the 6-year-old who is said to have shot her are being made public.
Zwerner, who is 25 years old, has been released from the hospital, but she allegedly told then-Principal Briana Foster-Newton and then-Assistant Principal Dr. Ebony Parker in an email thread on November 22, 2022, about two incidents with the boy in her classroom.
“As of today, I do not feel comfortable with him returning to my classroom today“ Zwerner wrote in the email obtained by the television station. On October 11, Zwerner asserted that the teen had given the middle finger to a fellow student. One month later, on November 11, she reported that he had collided with a fellow student and then pushed the student to the ground.
“In another Nov. 22 email, Parker suggests scheduling a conference with the boy’s dad to discuss ‘behavioral difficulties’ and ‘put some things in place to support’ the boy,” WVEC reports.
A lawyer for the city of Newton stated last week that she was unaware of claims that the student had a gun before the incident that led to the shooting. “It continues to be reported that unidentified school administrators were aware that the 6-year-old student had a gun at school on January 6 and simply failed to act,” a statement made by attorney Pamela Branch during a press conference held in Richmond, Virginia,
“Mrs. Newton has been assumed to have been one of those administrators,” Branch said. “However, this is far from the truth. The fact of the matter is that those who were aware that the student may have had a gun on the premises that day did not report this to Mrs. Newton at all.”
Zwerner’s attorney, Diane Toscano, stated last month that concerned staff at Richneck warned administrators three times that the boy had a gun and was threatening other students, but that no one called the police, removed the boy from class, or locked down the school before the shooting occurred. Zwerner was killed in the incident.
According to Toscano, she has informed the school board of Zwerner’s intention to file a lawsuit against the school district. Following the tragedy, there have been numerous changes made to both the school and the district.
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After receiving harsh criticism from both parents and staff in the aftermath of the incident, the school board decided to terminate Superintendent George Parker’s employment. Karen Lynch, who has been employed in the role of principal in Newport News for the past 17 years, has recently been promoted to the role of administrator at the school.
According to Michelle Price, the district spokeswoman for the school division, Assistant Principal Ebony Parker has resigned from her position.
The family of the boy has a lawyer. Police say that the boy’s mother bought the 9 mm handgun that was used to shoot him legally. The family said that the gun was “safe.” In January, their lawyer, James Ellenson, said that he thought the gun was in the woman’s closet on a shelf that was more than 6 feet high and had a trigger lock that needed a key.
The boy’s family also said that he has a “acute disability” and that his mother or father had to go to school with him and take him to class every day as part of his care plan. The family said that the shooting was the first time a parent had not been in class with him.
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