Ex-Assistant Principal Charged With Child Neglect in Virginia School Shooting


A former administrator at an elementary school in Virginia has been charged with eight counts of felony child neglect more than a year after a six-year-old first grader shot and injured his teacher.

Ex-assistant principal Ebony Parker, 39, is the first school official to be charged over the January 2023 shooting. Ms. Parker showed “reckless disregard” for human life and committed “a willful act or omission in the care” of students at Richneck Elementary School, according to the indictment unsealed on Tuesday.

She faces up to five years in prison for each count.

Ms. Parker resigned from her role as assistant principal following the shooting.

She was named in a $40 million lawsuit against Newport News Schools. Teacher Abigail Zwerner sued the district, claiming negligence in the shooting.

The lawsuit alleges Ms. Parker ignored at least three warnings about the boy that day, including from the teacher herself. Ms. Zwerner said that she went to Ms. Parker’s office to share concerns over the student’s “violent mood.” The lawsuit claims that the former assistant principal refused to acknowledge her remarks and “had no response.”

She also allegedly told another employee that the boy’s pockets were “too small to hold a handgun” and turned down a request from a guidance counselor to search the student.

Abigail Zwerner, a first-grade teacher at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Va., inside her classroom in a file photo. (Family of Abigail Zwerner via AP)

The boy opened fire as Ms. Zwerner sat at a table in the classroom and read to her students. She was struck in the hand and then the chest. She suffered life-threatening injuries but managed to evacuate the other students from her classroom to safety before she collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. The lawsuit says she also suffered ongoing emotional trauma from the shooting.

The boy told Newport News police that he climbed to the top of a dresser to retrieve his mother’s 9mm handgun from her purse. He then hid the gun in his backpack and then placed it in his pocket before the shooting.

NTD News reached out to Ms. Parker’s attorney, Curtis Rogers, for a statement regarding the charges but did not receive a response.

Ms. Parker is the second person to be charged in the case. The student’s mother, Deja Taylor, was previously charged. She was sentenced to two years in December 2023 after pleading guilty to a felony charge of child neglect. She also faced a misdemeanor charge of endangering a child by reckless storage of a firearm, but that charge was dropped.

Earlier this week, the parents of Michigan teen Ethan Crumbly were sentenced to 10-15 years each on involuntary manslaughter convictions for failing to get their son help and prevent him from having access to firearms. The shooter, who was 15 years old at the time, killed four students in the November 2021 shooting at Oxford High School.

In addition to the role parents may have, a similar criminal investigation into how schools handled a shooting was launched after the 2018 Parkland massacre. In that case, a former school resource officer was acquitted of all charges last year after he was accused of hiding during the shooting.

The shooting at Richneck Elementary School grabbed national attention because of the boy’s young age and also reignited calls to address school safety and gun violence across the country.

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