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Boy Who Shot Teacher Had 'Acute Disability,' Gun Was Secured: Family

The family of a 6-year-old boy who shot and wounded his teacher Jan. 6 in Newport News, Va., said the child suffered from “an acute disability” and that a parent usually accompanied him in class but did not the week the shooting occurred. The teacher was released from the hospital this week, the Associated Press reports. “Our family has always been committed to responsible gun ownership and keeping firearms out of the reach of children,” said the family, which was not identified. “The firearm our son accessed was secured.” The weapon supposedly was secured with trigger lock and ‘out of reach’ on a closet shelf. Regarding the disability, the family said the boy “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 family said the week of the shooting “was the first week when we were not in class with him. We will regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives.”

The statement did not define the boy’s disability or explain what his “care plan” was and whether it was similar to other plans that serve children with disabilities. Federal law requires public schools to accommodate students with disabilities and to modify curriculums, if necessary, to serve a student’s educational needs and goals, said Michael Kennedy, a professor of special education at the University of Virginia. About 12 percent of students in U.S. public schools have an “individualized education program,” Kennedy said. They require input from parents, teachers and other staff, such as a school psychologist. An accommodation for students with learning disabilities could be giving them extended time to complete an assignment or a test, Kennedy said. An accommodation for students with behavioral disabilities could mean seating them close to the teacher. A Virginia law prohibits leaving a loaded gun where it is accessible to a child under 14, a misdemeanor crime punishable by a maximum one-year prison sentence and a $2,500 fine.


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