Heightened security measures and a new school administration will welcome Richneck Elementary School students back to the classroom Monday for the first time since a 6-year-old allegedly shot his teacher nearly a month ago.
Newly-appointed school administrator Karen Lynch said emotional support services would be provided to students, families and staff while announcing schools would reopen.
A week after the Jan. 6 shooting, the Newport News School Board announced that 90 walk-through metal detectors would be placed in the school buildings across the district.
The school’s principal and assistant principal have both resigned after it was revealed that administrators were warned about the armed student three times the day of the shooting.
The district’s superintendent, Dr. George Parker, III, was also removed by the school board.
New additions to the school’s security include two officers assigned to the school. Before the shooting, there was one security officer shared between Richneck Elementary and another school in the district.
The security officer was not at Richneck Elementary at the time of the shooting, which rocked the city of Newport News and left 25-year-old teacher Abby Zwerner critically injured.
Police have said that the first-grade student brought a 9mm handgun to school and intentionally shot Zwerner while she was teaching.
The bullet hit Zwerner’s hand and struck her chest, but the teacher — now declared a “hero” — hustled the students out of the classroom before being rushed to the hospital.
Zwerner was in the hospital for nearly two weeks, but is now recovering at home. A lawyer for Zwerner said Wednesday the young teacher would sue the Newport News School District.
Her attorney claims administrators at Richneck Elementary School failed to act after they had been warned three times that the 6-year-old boy had a gun.
“On that day, over the course of a few hours, three different times — three times — school administration was warned by concerned teachers and employees that the boy had a gun on him at the school and was threatening people,” lawyer Diane Toscano said in a Wednesday news conference. “But the administration could not be bothered.”
Several teachers, including Zwerner, alerted administrators that they believed the boy had a gun either in his backpack or in his pocket. One teacher told administrators the boy threatened to shoot another student while at recess.
Toscano said one teacher told administrators at 12:30 p.m. the day of the shooting that she searched the boy’s backpack for the gun but believed it was in his pocket. Shortly after, a different teacher alerted administrators about the boy after a student said the 6-year-old showed him the gun and threatened to shoot him.
The 6-year-old boy’s mother, who has not been identified, purchased the gun legally, police said.
It’s unclear how the boy, whose family has said he has an “acute disability,” gained access to the weapon. The mother has not been charged with a crime.
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