Virginia Teacher Files $40M Lawsuit Against School for Failure to Protect Her After Being Shot by 6-Year-Old Student


After being shot by her 6-year-old student, Newport News area teacher Abigail Zwerner is suing the School Board of Richneck Elementary School, as well as several other defendants, for a total of $40 million. The other defendants in the suit include former schools Superintendent George Parker III, former Richneck principal Briana Foster Newton, and former Richneck vice principal Ebony Parker.

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Zwerner’s lawsuit includes a 20-page complaint, which states that the vice principal was made aware by multiple teachers and staff that the young child had a gun while at school, and did nothing. The child in question was reported to have a history of violence and overall bad behavior at the school, including instances where the young student strangled and choked a teacher, chased fellow students around with a belt, and inappropriately touched a classmate.

6-Year-Old Student Was Known to Be Violent

The complaint claims that the vice principal of Richneck Elementary School, where the incident occurred, put Zwerner in imminent danger “despite multiple reports that a firearm was on school property and likely in possession of a violent individual.” Apparently, the child’s behavior was so concerning that his parents were asked to accompany him to school, something that did not happen on the day of the violent incident. The boy’s parents told CNN, “We will regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives.”

Zwerner’s suit states, “Teachers’ concerns with John Doe’s behavior was regularly brought to the attention of Richneck Elementary School administration, and the concerns were always dismissed. Often when he was taken to the school office to address his behavior, he would return to the classroom shortly thereafter with some type of reward, such as a piece of candy.”

Although multiple teachers reported throughout the school day that the student had a gun and even showed it to another student while spouting a threatening comment, Zwerner was shot by the youth at 1:59 PM in her own classroom. Regarding the incident, Zwerner told Today, “It could’ve been fatal. We believe — with my hand being up, with it going through my hand first — we believe that, by the bullet going through the hand first, that it most likely saved my life.”

Zwerner’s attorney Diane Toscano also spoke on the school division’s incompetence, saying, “As a result of their inaction, Abby was shot by a six-year-old student, and she will never be the same. She has endured four surgeries and still has a bullet lodged inside her. In addition to holding the school division accountable for its failures, this lawsuit is a means to deliver justice for Abby in this tragic but entirely preventable situation.”

READ MORE: 12-Year-Old Murder Suspect Arrested Thanks to Domino’s Receipt

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