School where 6-year-old shot his teacher set to reopen
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BEN FINLEY and DENISE LAVOIE
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — Stepped-up security and a new school administrator will be present as students return to the Virginia elementary school where a 6-year-old boy shot his teacher weeks ago.
Richneck Elementary School in Newport News was set to reopen Monday, more than three weeks after the Jan. 6 shooting. Police have said the boy brought a 9mm handgun to school and intentionally shot his teacher, Abby Zwerner, as she was teaching her first-grade class. The 25-year-old teacher was hospitalized for nearly two weeks but is now recovering at home.
The shooting sent shock waves through Newport News, a city of about 185,000 that is known for its shipbuilding industry. It has also raised questions nationwide about school security and how a child so young could gain access to a gun and shoot his teacher.
Days after the shooting, the Newport News School Board announced that walk-through metal detectors would be placed in every school in the district. At Richneck, two metal detection systems have been installed and two security officers have been assigned to the school, said Michelle Price, a spokesperson for the school district. Before the shooting, one security officer was assigned to Richneck and another elementary school. The officer was not at Richneck at the time of the shooting.
The security officers will also have a hand-held metal detector wand, Price said. New doors have been installed in classroom areas that didn’t have any, while other doors have been repaired or replaced, she added.
The principal and assistant principal both left their jobs after the shooting, and a new administrator has been appointed to lead the school as part of a personnel shake-up.
School Superintendent George Parker, who was sharply criticized by parents and teachers after the shooting, was fired by the school board last week.