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Newport News Teacher Shot by 6-Year-Old Student Allegedly Fired, Sparks Legal Battle

In an unexpected twist, Abby Zwerner, the first-grade teacher who fell victim to a shocking shooting perpetrated by her own 6-year-old student back in January, has allegedly been fired from her position within Newport News Public Schools (NNPS). The revelation came to light after WAVY obtained a copy of an email sent to Zwerner on May 22, informing her of the “separation of employment” effective as of the close of business on June 12, 2023.

Zwerner’s attorney, Jeffrey Breit, vehemently characterized this development as a dismissal, emphasizing, “I don’t think you can read this any other way than you’ve been fired. And that’s what she thinks. She doesn’t understand it; there’s no other communication.” Breit’s comments, laced with incredulity, reflect the confusion and frustration plaguing Zwerner upon receiving the email notification.

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NNPS spokesperson Michelle Price sought to clarify the situation, stating that Zwerner had actually notified the school system of her decision not to return in March. According to Price, the email sent by the Human Resources Department simply served as a confirmation of Zwerner’s departure from NNPS, as is customary for all separating employees. However, Breit strongly contested this narrative, revealing that Zwerner had not been paid since February and alleging that NNPS attempted to coerce her into accepting workers’ compensation, only to cease payment when she refused. The attorney further expressed outrage over the timing of Zwerner’s alleged firing, occurring two months ahead of schedule and coinciding with their lawsuit against the school board.

The incident that forever altered Zwerner’s life occurred on January 6, within the confines of her classroom at Richneck Elementary School, when she was shot by her young student. The gravity of the situation was further compounded by the revelation that the firearm used belonged to the student’s mother, Deja Taylor. Coincidentally, on the very day of Zwerner’s reported termination, Taylor appeared in court, facing federal charges related to the case. She pleaded guilty to charges of unlawful possession of a firearm while being an unlawful user of a controlled substance, as well as making false statements during the firearm purchase process.

In response to the traumatizing incident, Zwerner filed a staggering $40 million lawsuit against the Newport News School Board, former Superintendent Dr. Gregory Parker, former Richneck Principal Briana Foster-Newton, and former Richneck Assistant Principal Dr. Ebony Parker. However, attorneys representing Dr. Gregory Parker have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that Zwerner’s injuries are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act, as she was shot while performing her professional duties.

Adding to the turmoil, several employees at Richneck Elementary School have resigned from NNPS in the aftermath of the shooting, including former Superintendent Dr. Gregory Parker. The incident continues to reverberate through the community, leaving a trail of unanswered questions and a climate of uncertainty.

The saga surrounding Abby Zwerner’s alleged firing has ignited a fresh wave of legal battles, casting a spotlight on the plight of teachers and the intricate legal landscape surrounding workplace injuries. As the legal proceedings unfold, the story serves as a chilling reminder of the lasting impact of that fateful day in January and the ongoing struggle for justice and compensation.

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