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Teacher who was shot by 6-year-old files $40 million lawsuit against school board

Billy Schuerman/Daily Press/Newport News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A Richneck, Virginia, woman who was shot by a 6-year-old in early January 2023 has filed a $40 million lawsuit against the Newport News School Board, claiming negligence led to the shooting, according to Yahoo News.

Richneck Elementary went into lockdown on Jan. 6, 2023, after first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner was shot in the hand and chest by a child who reportedly obtained a gun belonging to his mother, which was allegedly secured.

Zwerner says she told the school's administration that the boy, whose family says he has an "acute disability," had threatened another student at the school, but nothing was done.

"They didn't call security, they didn't remove the student from the classroom, the school administration failed to act," said her attorney Diane Toscano in January.

In the 20-page complaint, many of the previous assertions about the small boy are made, with expansions on key individuals involved in different incidents. he lawsuit claims that the 6-year-old “had a history of random violence," including attacking "students and teachers alike."

In a confirmed incident, the boy had previously “strangled and choked a teacher,” along with allegedly inappropriately touching a female student who fell in a playground, resulting in moving the boy from Richneck Elementary to the Denbigh Early Childhood Center.

After returning to the elementary school for first grade, the child was placed on a "modified schedule," which required a parent to accompany him at the school during the day.

This came after the boy was “chasing students around the playground with a belt in an effort to whip them with it," along with cursing at staff members.

The legal complaint insists that "concerns with [the boy’s] behavior were regularly brought to the attention of Richneck Elementary School administration, and the concerns were always dismissed.”

According to the complaint, two days before the shooting, the boy had grabbed the litigating teacher's phone and allegedly "slammed the cellphone on the ground so hard it cracked and shattered," before cursing at staffers.

After a one-day suspension, the boy was allegedly dropped off by his mother on January 6, 2023, but she didn't attend class with him.

According to the lawsuit, that very day of the shooting, around 11:15 a.m., Zwerner told the assistant principal that the child was "in a violent mood" and “threatened to beat up a kindergartner during lunchtime, and angrily stared down a security officer.”

Then, at about 2 p.m., the boy shot Zwerner while she was sitting at a table after pulling a gun out of the front pocket of his hoodie.

The single shot went through the teacher's left hand and into her chest.

The lawsuit names Newport News School Board as the lead defendant, along with Assistant Principal Ebony Parker, former school Principal Briana Foster Newton, and the superintendent.

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