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Former assistant principal of Virginia school where 6-year-old shot teacher charged with child abuse


The former assistant principal of a Virginia elementary school where a 6-year-old student shot his teacher in 2023 has been indicted on child abuse charges, court records show.

Parker is facing eight counts related to the day of the shooting, according to the online docket, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. A warrant has been issued for her arrest, the docket shows.

Court records filed in Newport News Circuit Court were unsealed Tuesday, about a month after a grand jury filed the charges.

NBC News could not immediately obtain a copy of the indictment for details on the charges.

The Newport News Commonwealth Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment. It was not immediately known if Parker had legal representation and she could not be reached for comment.

The Jan. 6, 2023, shooting of first-grade teacher Abigail Zwerner raised concerns about potential security failures at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News and in a school district rattled by other incidents of gun violence at other campuses.

Authorities say Zwerner was intentionally shot by one of her students but escorted her panicked class to safety. A bullet ripped through Zwerner’s left hand, rupturing bones before it lodged in her upper chest, leaving behind fragments.

Three months after the classroom shooting, she filed a $40 million lawsuit against the school district alleging that administrators failed to listen to multiple warnings from staff and students that the child had a handgun. Parker resigned in the wake of the suit.

Lawyers for Zwerner welcomed additional charges in the case on Tuesday.

“These charges are very serious and underscore the failure of the school district to act to prevent the tragic shooting of Abby Zwerner,” attorneys Diane Toscano, Kevin Biniazan and Jeffrey Breit said in a statement. “The school board continues to deny their responsibility to Abby, and this indictment is just another brick in the wall of mounting failures and gross negligence in their case.”

The boy’s mother, Deja Taylor, was sentenced to two years in December on a state charge of felony child neglect.

Taylor must begin her state sentence after she finishes serving 21 months on a related federal charge. She pleaded guilty in June to a charge of using marijuana while owning a gun, which is illegal under federal law, and was sentenced in November.

James Ellenson, a lawyer for Taylor, told NBC News on Tuesday that he would have wanted to see charges against school officials sooner, believing his client doesn’t share all the burden of responsibility on the day of the shooting.

The charges against a former school official represent a new frontier in school gun-violence-related prosecution, Ellenson added.

“I think we’re plowing new ground,” he said.

The local prosecutor, Howard Gwynn, told NBC News following the shooting that he would not seek charges against the student, given his age.

Seven separate lawsuits were filed in January on behalf of parents and guardians claiming multiple counts of negligence against school leadership. Emily Mapp Brannon, a lawyer for the families, said in a statement that “the suffering of the students of Richneck has been ignored.”

“These charges suggest that there is sufficient evidence that the students of Richneck were placed in peril by the very hands entrusted to protect them,” Brannon said. “As a representative of seven families, I remain optimistic that our criminal justice system will provide answers to the Richneck community. For the first time in over a year, the families may find comfort in knowing that the administration is being held accountable.”


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