I’m not a huge fan of the American educational system, but I do know a number of really good and dedicated teachers. I try to understand how difficult their job can be and I respect those who try to educate our young people as best they can, often against those students’ wishes.
Almost every educator in this country has some kind of story about a problem kid.
But a Virginia teacher was shot by a first grader. That’s kind of up there.
Now, we learn that this wasn’t out of the blue. The student was apparently an issue previously.
It has been a week since classes resumed at Richneck Elementary in Newport News, Virginia, and emails between teacher Abby Zwerner and school administrators regarding “behavioral difficulties” with the 6-year-old who reportedly shot her are being revealed.
Zwerner, 25, has been released from the hospital, but reportedly told then-Principal Briana Foster-Newton and then-Assistant Principal Dr. Ebony Parker of two incidents with the boy inside her classroom in an email thread on Nov. 22, 2022, according to WVEC-TV.
“As of today, I do not feel comfortable with him returning to my classroom today[,]” Zwerner wrote in the email obtained by the television station.
Zwerner alleged the boy gave his middle finger to a classmate on Oct. 11. A month later, on Nov. 11, she said he bumped into a classmate and then pushed the classmate to the ground.
“In another Nov. 22 email, Parker suggests scheduling a conference with the boy’s dad to discuss ‘behavioral difficulties’ and ‘put some things in place to support’ the boy,” WVEC reports.
Well, we see how well that worked, now don’t we?
To be fair, what we’re seeing here may be clearly a case of a kid with behavior issues, but nothing her signals that it was just a matter of time before the kid shot his teacher. Absolutely nothing.
I mean, I was a little older before I started giving people the finger, but that’s because no one knew what that gesture meant when I was six. We didn’t have it show up on cable TV or the internet with any regularity so I would have been exposed to it. The use of “the finger” isn’t a good thing and shouldn’t be permitted among students, but it’s not a signal of future gunfire.
Pushing another kid to the ground is a little more suggestive, but from what we’re seeing here, it’s a single incident. I get the teacher being concerned and wanting to speak with a parent, but again, this kind of thing happens regularly enough that there’s little reason to believe the next step would be the boy shooting his teacher.
Yet a big takeaway here is that there was a growing pattern of behavior that suggests this was a troubled kid. Moreover, it appears that the teacher made administrators aware there was an issue and nothing was done.
Then again, the teacher’s lawyer says administrators were, in fact, aware that the kid had a gun.
Diane Toscano, Zwerner’s lawyer, said last month that concerned staff at Richneck warned administrators three times that the boy had a gun and was threatening other students, but that no one called police, removed the boy from class or locked down the school before the shooting occurred.
Toscano said she has notified the school board that Zwerner intends to sue the school district.
Can’t say I blame her. Especially since the principal says that didn’t happen. Frankly, if they knew and did nothing, that’s bad news. I said previously that I could buy the explanation that they weren’t told because I couldn’t imagine administrators being unable to find a firearm in a kid’s backpack, but it seems that this was another part of that pattern of behavior that culminated in the shooting.
Frankly, if this goes to court, it’s going to be a fascinating case to watch.