School board votes out Newport News schools superintendent

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 11:16 PM EST
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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WWBT) -The Newport News School Board voted 5-1 Wednesday night to let Dr. George Parker III go from his position as superintendent.

This comes nearly three weeks after a 6-year-old boy allegedly shot his teacher inside a classroom at Richneck Elementary School.

The board’s decision was met with some opposition from member Gary Hunter who said his voice had not yet been heard on the matter.

“What we’re going to do tonight will be a tragedy if we’re making decisions without completing the investigation,” Hunter said.

Other board members said this comes at a perfect storm after two students were shot back in 2021 and have heard from staff who feel like they are not being supported.

“As my colleagues have shared, sometimes it is just time for new leadership,” Dr. Terri Best, board vice chair, said. “One of the things that an intelligent person told me is that when a leader loses the trust of those who follow them that it’s time for them to go.”

This all comes the same day an attorney for the teacher who was shot, Abby Zwerner, filed a lawsuit against the school division.

Zwerner’s attorney claims this tragedy was preventable and that the administration was warned three times the student had a gun on the day of the shooting.

Her attorney, Diane Toscano, said the first time was from Zwerner herself.

“Abby went to a school administrator, as was protocol, to tell them that the six-year-old had threatened to beat up another child that same day,” Toscano said.

The attorney said that around 12:30 p.m., another teacher told an administrator they believed the student had a gun in their pocket.

“The administrator downplayed the report from the teacher and the possibility of a gun, saying, and I quote, “Well, he has little pockets,” Toscano said.

Later on, a third teacher allegedly told administrators another child said the 6-year-old showed them the gun at recess and threatened to shoot him if he told anybody.

A fourth employee allegedly tried asking the school administration to search the boy but was denied.

“He was told to wait for the situation out because the school day was almost over,” Toscano said.

Richneck’s vice principal has also resigned.

Parker will be removed from his position on Feb.1, and an interim superintendent has been appointed.