The 6-year-old boy who shot and wounded his teacher in Virginia earlier this month had repeatedly threatened other students earlier that day, but school administrators “paralyzed by apathy” refused to intervene, the teacher’s attorney said Wednesday.
The bullet remains lodged in teacher Abigail Zwerner’s chest, her lawyer said, and she awaits a lifetime of physical and psychological recovery. Zwerner, 25, filed a letter of intent on Wednesday to sue the Newport News School District for failing to respond to repeated threats reported Jan. 6, her attorney said.
“Abby Zwerner was shot in front of those horrified children and the school and community are living through the nightmare, all because the school board has not acted,” said lawyer Diane Toscano. “This should never have happened. It was preventable. And thank God Abby’s alive.”
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Lawyer claims school was warned three times
Toscano described the three warnings in a statement to reporters. According to the statement:
- The boy had threatened to beat up another child around 11:15 that day.
- Another teacher reported to administrators around 12:30 p.m. that she had searched the boy’s bag because she heard he had a gun. She didn’t find it, but suggested he might have put it in his pocket when he went to recess.
- Another teacher reported to administrators that the student showed another child the gun and threatened to shoot him if he told.
“Abby and these other teachers were trying to do the right thing,” Toscano said. “On that day, over the course of a few hours, three different times – three times – the school board was alerted by concerned teachers and employees that the boy had pointed a gun at him and was threatening people. But the administration could not be disturbed. “
What’s next in the case?
Toscano said the school district’s response will be closely watched by both her client and the wider community. She suggested that challenging the lawsuit would indicate that teachers are considered disposable.
“How can anyone find the courage to face a class of students with confidence again?” Tuscany said. “Since they can’t turn back time and undo the bureaucracy’s callousness, they can do the right thing and admit what went wrong and fix it and take care of Abby now.”
Learn about 6-year-old who shot teacher
According to police, the boy’s mother legally bought the gun used in the shooting. The boy’s family said in a statement last week that the weapon was “secure”. The family’s attorney, James Ellenson, told The The Bharat Express News he understood the gun was in the woman’s closet on a shelf more than six feet high and had a trigger lock that required a key.
The family also said in its statement that the boy has an “acute disability” and was covered by a care plan “where his mother or father went to school with him and accompanied him to class every day”. The week of the shooting was the first time a parent was not in his class, the family said.
Superintendent George Parker III has said that at least one administrator was told on the day of the shooting that the boy may have had a weapon, but no weapon was found when his backpack was searched.
The Newport News school board will hold a special meeting Wednesday night to vote on a divorce settlement and severance pay for Parker, according to a posted agenda. The board will also vote on a new interim superintendent.
Contributions: The The Bharat Express News