A Virginia school board voted to fire its superintendent just weeks after a six-year-old student shot a teacher in class. On Wednesday, the Newport News School Board voted five to one to remove George Parker III. According to Sky News, the board approved a separation agreement in which he will be paid more than $502,000 in severance, or two years of his current base salary of $251,000.
“It is important that we state that this decision was made without cause,” Board Chair Lisa Surles-Law said following the vote. According to her, Parker was “a capable division leader who has served Newport News for nearly five years through some extremely challenging circumstances. This decision is based on the future trajectory and needs of our school division.”
Parker’s removal is opposed by Gary Hunter, a member of the school board. He stated that bringing in a new employee will not solve the problem. “This is not a Newport News problem,” he explained. “The gun is the big elephant in the room.”
Abigail Zwerner, 25, was shot by a 6-year-old student while teaching at Richneck Elementary School on January 6. The boy was carrying his mother’s handgun. Lawyers for the boy’s family said in a statement that the gun was legally purchased by the boy’s mother and was kept in her closet on a high shelf in the family home. It also had a key-operated trigger lock.
The boy has a “acute disability,” according to the lawyers, and is on a care plan that includes “his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day.” According to the statement, it was the first time a parent was not present in class with him a week before the shooting.
Zwerner, who survived the shooting, has filed a lawsuit against the school district. Diane Toscano, her attorney, stated that on the day of the shooting, employees and concerned teachers warned administrators three times that the boy had a gun and was threatening other students, “but the administration could not be bothered.”
Following an altercation between Zwerner and the student, the shooting occurred. According to the police, the boy was placed under temporary detention and evaluated at a local hospital. According to CNN, this was the first school shooting in the United States this year. According to the report, there will be 60 shootings at K-12 schools in 2022.
The boy’s mother could face charges in connection with the shooting. “Under Virginia law, it is a misdemeanor for an adult to leave a loaded, unsecured firearm in such a way that it could endanger a child under the age of 14,” CNN explained. It is illegal to unknowingly allow a child under the age of 12 to use a firearm.”