Newport News School Was Warned 3 Times That 6-Year-Old Had a Gun, Lawyer Says

The student had previously threatened to light a teacher on fire and, in one incident, threw furniture and other items in class, leaving other students frightened, according to The Washington Post. On the day of the shooting, Ms. Zwerner reported to the school that the boy had threatened to beat up another child, her lawyer said.

James J. Fedderman, the president of the Virginia Education Association, said that the boy’s behavior — and the urgent requests for intervention from school employees — needed to be taken seriously. “That’s a cry for help on two accounts — a cry for help on the side of the student, a cry for help on the side of the educator,” he said.

It is unclear who at the school may have had knowledge of the warnings.

The school’s principal is no longer at Richneck Elementary, where a new administrator is leading the school’s reopening, a school district spokeswoman said. An assistant principal at the school was also reported to have resigned.

During the meeting on Wednesday, several school board members appeared pained over the vote to terminate Dr. Parker’s contract, which they said reflected a need to move in a new direction to meet the challenges of running a school system in 2023. The termination, in a 5-1 vote, was without cause and effective as of Feb. 1.

“Getting rid of someone is not going to fix this particular problem,” said Gary B. Hunter, who was the only board member to vote against termination. The problem, he said, was bigger than the Newport News school system, or even the city. Guns, he said, were the “elephant in the room.”

Terri L. Best, the vice chair of the board, voted for the termination of the contract, but said that she had grown concerned about the tenor of the conversation, including attacks on the 6-year-old, who is being treated at a hospital.

“In the middle of this storm is a 6-year-old little boy,” Dr. Best said. “When did we as a society give up on 6-year-old children?”

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