- The Washington Times
Monday, January 30, 2023

Metal detectors and clear backpacks are two of the biggest changes for students returning Monday to the Virginia elementary school where police said a 6-year-old boy intentionally shot his first-grade teacher earlier this month.

Karen Lynch will take over as acting administrator at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News after Vice Principal Ebony Parker resigned last week and Principal Briana Foster Newton was reassigned within the school district. 

The school board voted to remove school system Superintendent George Parker during its meeting last week as well.

The clear backpacks will be provided to students when they arrive for class Monday and the two newly installed metal detectors will get their first use when they scan the lunchboxes students bring to school, according to WAVY-TV

Police officers and fire crews will also have a visible presence during Richneck’s return, but Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew told the station that there won’t be any school resource officers going forward as the department doesn’t have enough staffing to cover the elementary level.

Further, the classroom where 25-year-old teacher Abby Zwerner was shot on Jan. 6 will not be reopened for instruction anytime soon.

That day, police said, the young boy aimed a 9mm handgun at Ms. Zwerner, firing a single shot that went through her hand and into her upper chest.

Ms. Zwerner was hospitalized in critical condition, but she is now back home recovering.

Diane Toscano, an attorney representing Ms. Zwerner, announced the teacher’s intent to sue the school district last week. 

Ms. Toscano claimed that school administrators were warned by staff multiple times throughout the day about the boy bringing a gun to campus, including just an hour before the teacher was shot. Administrators weren’t able to locate the gun despite searching the boy’s backpack earlier in the day.

The boy, who has not been identified, has been held at a hospital for treatment and was taken into state custody. 

Police said the boy took the gun from his home. The firearm was registered to his mother. 

His parents released a statement through their attorney saying the firearm was secured inside their house. 

They also said the boy “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.” 

The week of the shooting was the first time neither parent was with him in class. 

“We will regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives,” the statement said. 

• This story was written in part by wire service reports.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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