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Former assistant principal of Virginia school where 6-year-old shot teacher charged with child abuse

The former assistant principal of a Virginia elementary school where a 6-year-old student shot his teacher in 2023 has been charged with child abuse, court records show.

According to online filings, Ebony Parker faces eight charges related to the day of the shooting, each of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. A warrant has been issued for her arrest, the filing states.

Court records filed in Newport News Circuit Court were unsealed Tuesday, about a month after a grand jury filed the charges.

NBC News was not immediately able to obtain a copy of the indictment for details of the charges.

The Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment. It was not immediately known whether Parker had legal representation and she could not be reached for comment.

The Jan. 6, 2023, shooting of first-grade teacher Abigail Zwerner raised concerns about possible security lapses at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News and a school district rocked by other incidents of gun violence on other campuses.

Authorities say Zwerner was intentionally shot by one of her students, but she escorted her panicked class to safety. A bullet passed through Zwerner’s left hand, shattering bones before lodging in his upper chest, leaving fragments behind.

Three months after the classroom shooting, she filed a $40 million lawsuit against the school district, alleging that administrators failed to listen to multiple warnings from staff and students that the child had a handgun. Parker resigned following the trial.

Zwerner’s lawyers on Tuesday welcomed additional charges in the case.

“These charges are very serious and highlight the school district’s failure to act to prevent the tragic shooting of Abby Zwerner,” attorneys Diane Toscano, Kevin Biniazan and Jeffrey Breit said in a statement. “The school board continues to deny its responsibility to Abby, and this indictment is just another brick in the wall of growing failures and gross negligence in their case.”

The boy’s mother, Deja Taylor, was sentenced to two years in prison in December for child neglect.

Taylor is scheduled to begin his state sentence after serving 21 months for a related federal charge. She pleaded guilty in June to a charge of consuming marijuana while possessing a firearm, which is illegal under federal law, and was sentenced in November.

James Ellenson, a lawyer for Taylor, told NBC News on Tuesday that he would have liked to see charges against school officials sooner, believing his client does not share all the blame on the day of the shooting.

The charges against a former school official represent a new frontier in prosecutions related to gun violence in schools, Ellenson added.

“I think we are plowing new ground,” he said.

Local prosecutor Howard Gwynn told NBC News after the shooting that he would not file charges against the student, given his age.

Seven separate lawsuits were filed in January on behalf of parents and guardians, alleging multiple counts of negligence against the school administration. Emily Mapp Brannon, an attorney for the families, said in a statement that “the suffering of Richneck students has been ignored.”

“These accusations suggest that there is sufficient evidence that Richneck students were put in harm’s way by the very hands charged with protecting them,” Brannon said. “As a representative of seven families, I remain optimistic that our criminal justice system will provide answers to the Richneck community. For the first time in over a year, families may find comfort in knowing that the administration is held responsible.”

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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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