A school board in Newport News, Virginia, has voted to remove district superintendent George Parker III after a 6-year-old student shot a teacher. a lawyer forthe first-grade teacher who was shot and wounded, claimed Wednesday that school administrators that the student had a weapon.
In a 5-1 vote at a Wednesday night meeting, the school board decided to fire school district superintendent George Parker III as part of a severance agreement that will pay Parker just over $502,000 in severance. , two years of his current base salary of $251,000. . Parker has been heavily criticized by parents and teachers since the January 6 shooting.
Park will be relieved of his duties on February 1.
Parker’s departure had been expected since a school board agenda was released Tuesday showing the panel was set to vote on his separation package. The severance and severance agreement says the board has decided to “terminate the contract and employment of the Superintendent.”
After the vote, several members praised Parker’s past performance as superintendent.
Board member Gary Hunter went on to defend Parker at length as some audience members sighed and told him to “move on”. Hunter said he thought Parker was being unfairly blamed for the shooting and said the real problem is the lack of “common sense gun laws.”
“Getting rid of someone is not going to fix this particular problem,” Hunter said.
Hunter likened the situation to a school bus full of kids with failed brakes, “and now what we plan to do is throw the driver off the bus. And we want to replace him with someone else while he’s moving.”
He also described the aftermath of the shooting as a kind of learning experience on how to deal with similar situations in the future, comparing it to the events of 9/11.
Towards the end of his lengthy remarks, another board member could be heard whispering to Hunter, “it’s not about you right now.”
As part of the agreement, board chairwoman Lisa Surles-Law read a statement in which the board said the decision to fire Parker was made “without cause” and that Parker “is a capable division leader” who has served the school district for nearly five years “through some extremely challenging circumstances.”
Parker has said that at least one administrator was told on the day of the shooting that the boy might have a weapon, but no weapon was found when his backpack was searched. Police have said that school officials did not tell them that information before the shooting, which occurred hours later.
Zwerner was shot in front of his other first graders in what police described as an “intentional” shooting. He was able to evacuate the classroom as he and another school employee, who Zwerner’s attorney, Diane Toscano, said she was a teacher, restrained the 6-year-old.
Zwerner was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries and has been recovering at home since January 19. Toscano said the bullet remains in Zwerner’s body and said the teacher continues to undergo surgeries and physical therapy.
It is unclear if the 6-year-old, who is also hospitalized, will face any charges.