School board sacks superintendent in district where 6-year-old shot teacher

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School board sacks superintendent in district where 6-year-old shot teacher | The Hill
































Newport News Superintendent of Schools George Parker makes remarks on the safety parameters currently in place at the city’s schools during a press conference at the Newport News School Administration Building in Newport News, Va., on Monday Jan. 9, 2023. A Virginia police chief said a 6-year-old student fired the handgun that wounded a Virginia first-grade teacher while she was teaching class on Friday, Jan. 6 at Richneck Elementary School. (AP Photo/John C. Clark)

A Virginia school board has relieved its superintendent of his duties, after a 6-year-old student shot and injured a teacher earlier this month, prompting calls for the superintendent’s resignation or firing.

The Newport News School Board, by a five to one vote on Wednesday, decided to remove Superintendent George Parker III from his position, effective Feb. 1. The decision to oust Parker comes as the school system has shaped sharp criticism from the community in the aftermath of the shooting.

Abigail Zwerner, 25, was shot by a student in her first grade class as she was teaching at Richneck Elementary School, according to police. Police have characterized the shooting as “intentional.” After being shot once in the hand and chest, Zwerner was in the hospital for two weeks but has since been released, according to the Associated Press.

But outrage grew after Parker revealed that administrators had been made aware on the day of the shooting that the child may have had a weapon. Although he said the boy’s backpack was searched and no weapon was found, police say administrators never contacted authorities when given the tip.

At a board meeting last week, teachers floated concerns about misbehavior in schools and the way administrators were handling the disruptions, arguing that they had been giving too much slack in their discipline.

The school board did not release terms of the separation agreement with Parker. It voted to appoint a new interim superintendent, Michele Mitchell, along a five to one vote margin.

Mitchell currently serves as the executive director of student advancement for Newport News Public Schools’s special education department.

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