It appears Newport News schools Superintendent George Parker may be leaving the district in the wake of the shooting of a first-grade teacher by a 6-year-old earlier this month.
The Newport News school board was set to vote Wednesday on a separation agreement with Parker and choose an interim superintendent to replace him, according to the Wednesday night board meeting agenda posted on the Virginia district’s website.
The agenda provides no further information about the separation agreement with Parker, who has faced severe backlash and calls for his removal by parents and teachers in the weeks since the shooting, the DailyPress reported. Much of the criticism has focused on “out of control” student behavior, including two other shootings at district schools in the last 18 months, according to the newspaper.
Police say that the 6-year-old male student shot and wounded teacher Abby Zwerner after an altercation in a classroom at Richneck Elementary School on Jan. 6. Zwerner suffered life-threatening injuries but is now recovering after having spent two weeks in the hospital, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. The family of the student has said he has a significant disability.
About an hour before the shooting, Zwerner texted a loved one to say she was worried because the boy had a gun but administrators had not stepped in to help, NBC News reported. At least two other teachers warned administrators that the boy was armed on the day of shooting, including one who reportedly searched his backpack, according to NBC News.
Shortly after the shooting, Parker said in a news conference that he was “disheartened” and “in shock” over the incident and urged the community to work harder to keep guns out of the hands of students. “I cannot control access to weapons,” Parker said. “My teachers cannot control access to weapons… Our students got a lesson in gun violence and what guns can do to not only disrupt not only an educational environment but also a family, a community.”
No charges have yet been filed in the case.
Parker became Newport News schools superintendent in 2018 after having been superintendent of Caroline County Public Schools, also in Virginia. He had previously been a teacher, assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent of secondary schools in Virginia Beach City Public Schools.