WASHINGTON, Jan 26, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - An American elementary school teacher shot by her six-year-old student plans to file a lawsuit against school authorities saying they ignored multiple warnings over the threat, her lawyer said Wednesday.
Attorney Diane Toscano said administrators at the Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia were warned three times on January 6 by her client Abigail Zwerner and other teachers that the boy could have a gun and was threatening others.
Zwerner survived the shooting, but was seriously injured.
That morning Zwerner, 25, told school administrators that the boy, who has not been identified, had threatened to beat up another child.
"But the school administration could not be bothered," Toscano said.
An hour later another teacher told them that the boy apparently brought a gun to school but she did not see it in his school bag, and that he might have it in his pockets.
A third teacher then reported that another student said while crying that he had seen the gun and been threatened with it.
Still no action was taken, and a school employee was denied permission to physically search the boy.
An administrator said the boy "has little pockets" and that the issue could be left until the school day ends.
"Tragically almost an hour later, violence struck at Richneck Elementary School. Abby Zwerner was shot in front of those horrified kids," said Toscano.
"This tragedy was entirely preventable if the school administrators responsible for school safety had done their part and taken action when they had knowledge of imminent danger," she said.
Zwerner survived being shot in the chest and is now recuperating at home, but faces more surgery.
Later Wednesday, Newport News authorities announced the decision to fire school district superintendent George Parker III "based on the future trajectory and needs of our school division."
The school board stressed that the "decision was made without cause as Dr. Parker is a capable division leader" and thanked him for his service.
The case stunned much of the nation, given the age of the boy, even as the United States faces increasing numbers of school shootings.
The boy apparently removed his mother's gun from a closet. His parents issued a statement last week praising Zwerner and claiming that the gun had been secured.
They said the boy suffers from "an acute disability" and was under a special school care plan that usually involved a member of the family accompanying him to school and class.
"The week of the shooting was the first week when we were not in class with him," they said.
Because of his age, charges are not likely.
His parents could, however, face charges for allowing the child access to a gun.