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Top Leadership Out at School Where First Grader Allegedly Shot Teacher


With the Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Va., set to reopen next week after a 6-year-old boy shot his teacher on Jan. 6, 2023, students and their families were invited to an open house at the school Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. The students visited with staff and participated in activities. They were greeted by signs reading, “YOU ARE LOVED,” “WE LOVE YOU” and “RICHNECK STRONG.” (AP Photo/Denise Lavoie)

Classes are underway at the Virginia elementary school where a 6-year-old student is accused of seriously injuring his teacher at the beginning of the year when he shot her.

Richneck Elementary School reopened on Monday, according to a message posted to the school’s website. It had been closed since Jan. 6, when police said a first-grade student shot teacher Abigail Zwerner with a gun he had apparently brought with him to school.

Zwerner, who was shot in the hand and chest, suffered injuries described as “life threatening,” and is currently at home recovering, according to her lawyer Diane Toscano.

Police have said that the incident “was not an accidental shooting.” At a press conference last week, Toscano detailed at least three ways in which school administrators were allegedly warned that the boy had a gun but did not take action.

The principal of the school has reportedly been reassigned to a different school within the Newport News School District, according to CNN. The district has not confirmed which school has received now-former Richneck Elementary principal Briana Foster Newton.

Assistant Principal Ebony Parker has also resigned from her position after the shooting, CNN reported.

The Newport News School Board voted last week to approve a separation agreement and severance with superintendent Dr. George Parker III.

In a message posted to the Richneck Elementary School website, officials advised that school would start at “the normal time” on Monday and will be a “full instructional day.”

The statement said that the school will have a visible law enforcement presence as well as other noticeable changes.

“We will have police presence on campus to assist with the transition,” the statement said. “All students will receive a clear book bag on Monday. Students will bring the clear book bags home on Monday afternoon. If your child brings a lunch to school or other items, please be aware that these items will go through metal detection and will be subject to search.”

All students and visitors will be required to use a dedicated set of doors to enter and exit the building.

The school added that visitors will be limited during the first week back to school so that teachers and staff could establish routines with the students. Parents walking their children to class “must show identification and will be subject to search,” the statement added.

Licensed therapists and social workers will “continue to be available for students, staff, and parents on-site.”

The school’s website also provided guidance to parents about how to support their children after a “tragic or critical incident.”

At a press conference last week, Toscano detailed at least three ways in which school administrators were allegedly warned that day that the boy had the gun on him.

Although multiple teachers reported that the boy allegedly had a gun with him, pursuant to school protocol, administrators allegedly downplayed those concerns, Toscano said. When one teacher told a school administrator that she believed the boy had taken the gun with him outside during recess, the administrator allegedly downplayed concerns and said that the boy “has little pockets.”

An attorney for the boy’s family has released a statement saying that their child has an “acute disability” that normally requires at least one parent to go to school with him every day. Neither parent was with the boy on the day he allegedly shot Zwerner, and police have indicated that the parents could potentially face charges.

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