A school board in Virginia has voted to fire its district superintendent after a six-year-old pupil shot a teacher.
The Newport News School Board voted five-to-one to relieve George Parker III of his duties – but as part of a separation agreement, he’ll be paid more than $502,000 (£405,063) in severance – two years of his current base salary of $251,000 (£202,531).
It comes after Abigail Zwerner, 25, was shot in the hand and chest at Richneck Elementary School.
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Concerned teachers and employees, including Ms Zwerner, are said to have warned school administrators three times that the boy had a gun and was threatening other students.
The teacher also sent a text to a loved one, hours before she was shot, that “showed her frustration” at the school, a source told NBC.
Ms Zwerner’s lawyer Diane Toscano said administrators were “paralysed by apathy” as they failed to alert police or remove the boy.
She said on the day of the shooting they “could not be bothered” and told one employee to “wait the situation out, because the school day was almost over”.
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”, Ms Toscano said.
She also revealed Ms Zwerner will sue the district.
‘Elephant in the room’
School board chairwoman Lisa Surles-Law said Mr Parker, who had been in the role for nearly five years, was a “capable division leader” but the decision was based “on the future trajectory and needs of our school division”.
One school board member, Gary Hunter, was “perplexed” by Mr Parker’s removal. He defended Mr Parker’s prior evaluations adding that “getting someone new is not going to fix the problem”.
“This problem is not a Newport News problem,” he said. “The big elephant in the room is the gun.”
Student was under a care plan
Lawyers representing the boy’s family told reporters that his mother legally purchased the gun used in the shooting and that it was kept up high in the family home, and had a trigger lock that required a key.
They said the boy has an “acute disability” and was under a care plan “that included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day”.
The week of the shooting was the first when a parent was not in class with him, the family said.
They family’s lawyer James Ellenson said: “On behalf of the family of the child, we continue to pray for Ms Zwerner and wish her a complete and full recovery.
“Our hearts go out to all involved.”