The heat is on administrators at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, as more information comes to light regarding the shooting of a first-grade teacher by one of her students.
RTM previously reported that a six-year-old male student shot teacher Abigail Zwerner. The boy reportedly took a pistol owned by his mother and shot Zwerner in the chest after stating he wanted to light Zwerner on fire and watch her die.
Newly released emails note that administrators were warned about the boy’s aggressive behavior on multiple occasions and were aware the boy had brought a weapon on campus but did not take action, even at the explicit request of Zwerner.
The New York Post reports that Zwerner expressed her concerns in writing to administrators about inappropriate behavior on Oct. 11 and Nov. 22. The boy’s propensity for violence led Zwerner to tell administrators she was “uncomfortable” allowing the student to return to her classroom.
13News Now reported that a concerned Zwerner sent emails to Principal Briana Foster Newton and Assistant Principle Ebony Parker. Both Newton and Parker have since resigned from their positions.
The outlet reported that Zwerner wrote:
“I have sent in a referral on Synergy for ____ and typed details of what occurred this morning. He spent his last few moments before lunch in Mrs. West’s room and was in Mrs. Miller’s classroom for the rest of the day. Looking at [the disciplinary] sheets I have collected, ___________ has 2 [disciplinary] sheets so far this year: 10/11 for sticking his middle finger up to a classmate, and 11/11 for bumping into classmates while running around the class, and then pushing them to the ground after bumping into him.”
Zwerner concluded her email: “As of today, I do not feel comfortable with him returning to my classroom.”
The outlet also noted that Parker responded to Zwerner’s email by suggesting scheduling a meeting with the boy’s father to address “behavioral difficulties” and “put some things in place to support” the troubled student.
After the shooting, the boy’s family told the school officials that the first grader “suffers from an acute disability and was under a care plan at the school that included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day.”
However, the parents did not accompany the boy to school the week of the incident; they have since shared: “We will regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives.”
Zwerner’s attorney, Diane Toscano, asserted school staffers not only warned administrators that the boy exhibited violent behavior but were alerted three times that the boy had a weapon in his backpack on the day of the shooting.
Toscano has announced that Zwerner intends to sue the school district over the “entirely preventable” shooting.
However, Pamela Branch, an attorney for Foster Newton, stated that the principal was not informed of a gun on campus the day of the shooting.
“It continues to be reported that unidentified school administrators were aware the 6-year-old student had a gun at school on Jan. 6 and simply failed to act,” Branch told reporters last week.
“Mrs. Newton has been assumed to be one of those administrators; however, this is far from the truth,” she said. “The fact of the matter is those who were aware the student had a gun on the premises that day did not report it to Mrs. Newton at all.”
The bullet passed through Zwerner’s hand and struck her chest. Despite her injuries, Zwerner instructed students to run, take cover and later led students out of the classroom before being rushed to a hospital.
The Virginia State Senate passed a resolution commending Zwerner for her bravery. The resolution reads:
“Despite life-threatening injuries, Abby Zwerner ushered her students to safety in another room and was the last person to exit the classroom where the shooting took place; no students were injured,” and “then alerted the school administrator to call for assistance.”
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