After facing a traumatizing near-death experience, a Virginia teacher is suing her former employer for an incident she believes was gravely mishandled.
via: NBC News
Almost three months after Virginia teacher Abigail Zwerner was shot by a 6-year-old student, she filed a $40 million lawsuit Monday alleging school administrators shrugged off multiple warnings from staff and students who believed the boy had a gun and posed an imminent threat on the day of the shooting, and did so knowing the child “had a history of random violence.”
The Jan. 6 shooting of Zwerner at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News stunned the country as police announced the child’s actions were intentional. The student shot her with a 9 mm handgun while she sat at a reading table in their first-grade classroom, according to officials.
The injured educator’s complaint, filed in the Newport News Circuit Court, says Richneck Assistant Principal Ebony Parker chose to “breach her assumed duty” to protect Zwerner, “despite multiple reports that a firearm was on school property and likely in possession of a violent individual.”
Parker resigned in the wake of the shooting. She could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
Also named as defendants are the Newport News School Board, former schools Superintendent George Parker III, whom the board voted to remove “without cause,” and Richneck principal Briana Foster Newton, who was transferred to a different role within the district.
Zwerner, 25, is seeking a jury trial, noting in her suit that she suffers from “physical pain and mental anguish.”
Newport News police praised her for managing to escort her class of about 20 students to safety even after she was seriously wounded in her left hand and chest.
Lawyers for Zwerner said Monday on NBC’s “TODAY” show that the school leadership knew of at least three separate warnings that the boy was believed to have a gun and some other students reported seeing it.
Lawyer Jeffrey Breit disagreed with the idea that Zwerner’s negligence suit should be a workers’ compensation claim under Virginia law since theoretically, workers can’t sue their own employers.
But, he said, the shooting is “an exception” because “no 6-year-old student is going to be a risk of shooting their teacher. It’s not part of their job. It’s not a night 7-Eleven worker.”