Concerned staff warned administrators at a Newport News, Va., elementary school three times that a six-year-old boy had a gun and was threatening other students before he shot and wounded a teacher, but the administration “was paralyzed by apathy” and didn’t call police, remove the boy from class or lock down the school, says the wounded teacher’s lawyer. The school board fired school district superintendent George Parker III as part of a separation agreement that will pay Parker a little over $502,000 in severance. Parker has been sharply criticized by parents and teachers since the Jan. 6 shooting, reports the Associated Press. Diane Toscano, an attorney for Abigail Zwerner, said the 25-year-old teacher at Richneck Elementary School plans to sue the school district over the shooting, which left her with serious injuries.
When one employee who had heard the boy might have a gun asked an administrator to search the boy, he was turned down, Toscano said. “He was told to wait the situation out because the school day was almost over,” she said. About an hour later, “Abby Zwerner was shot in front of those horrified kids, and the school and community are living the nightmare, all because the school administration failed to act,” Toscano said. “Were they not so paralyzed by apathy, they could have prevented this tragedy,” she said. Cindy Connell, a middle school teacher in Newport News, called the events described by Toscano “beyond horrifying.” “This is just another example of administrators not listening to the concerns of teachers, and the only reason we’re talking about this one is because Abby Zwerner got shot,” Connell said. The scho ol, which has been closed since the shooting, is scheduled to reopen next week.