A VIRGINIA teacher who was shot by her six-year-old student sent a text to a loved one before the incident occurred, expressing her frustration at school officials’ failure to act, sources say.
The source said the text message “showed her frustration” and that “she was trying to get help with this child, for this child, and then when she needed help, no one was coming.”
Newport News Public Schools spokesperson Michelle Price confirmed the incident is under investigation.
“Anything that has been reported to our school leadership team in regards to concerns at Richneck from teachers and staff members is part of the investigation. It’s being thoroughly investigated,” she said.
Zwerner’s attorney, Diane Toscano, held a press conference on Wednesday morning, stating that three teachers had gone to the school administration about the boy’s behavior that day.
They also reported that they believed he had a gun on school grounds.
According to the family of the armed child, the boy suffers from an “acute ability” that requires one of his parents to be with him in classes.
However, neither parents were present on the day of the incident.
Toscano said that Zwerner first went to a school administrator between 11.15 a.m. and 11.30 a.m. and reported that the student had threatened to beat up a classmate.
A second teacher went to a school administrator at 12.30 p.m. and reported that she had searched the six-year-old boy’s backpack and found nothing.
A third teacher told an administrator shortly before 1 p.m. that the boy had shown another student a gun at recess and “threatened to shoot him if he told anybody,” according to Toscano.
A fourth employee asked an administrator for permission to search the boy and was denied, with the administrator telling the employee to “wait the situation out because the school day was almost over.”
Toscano also alleged that the tragedy was “entirely preventable” if the administration “had taken action when they had knowledge of imminent danger. But instead, they failed to act and Abby was shot.”
Toscano said she plans to sue the school system on Zwerner’s behalf.
The evening after Toscano’s news conference, the Newport News School Board voted to fire its superintendent, Dr George Parker III, WAVY reported.
The board decided to instate executive director of special education Michele Mitchell in this interim period.
According to the board’s chairwoman, the decision was based “on the future trajectory and needs of our school division” but did not give specific details as to why the firing took place.
Nevertheless, the spokesperson wished Parker well on behalf of the board and thanked him for his leadership throughout the past five years.
Zwerner has been released from the hospital following the shooting, and her family asked for privacy.
The firearm shot by the child was legally purchased by his family who “has always been committed to responsible gun ownership and keeping firearms out of the reach of children,” according to a letter written by the parents.
The six-year-old’s family said last week: “We will regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives.”
It’s unclear how he gained access to the weapon as the family claimed the gun was locked up on the day of the shooting.
Parents have spoken out about how the incident affected their young children who were present with one mom claiming her six-year-old was “traumatized.”
School officials have closed down the school and plan to reopen next week.
Teachers and administrators held an open house on Wednesday so children and parents could interact with the staff and do some fun activities.
Signs along the sidewalks in front of the school offered reassuring messages to the students as they prepare for their return: “You’ve got this,” “We are Praying for You,” and “You are Loved.”