by Kerry Dougherty
Excuse my language, but what the hell is going on at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News?
On Saturday, The Washington Post reported that school administrators there have downplayed threats of violence, apparently ignoring pleas for help from frightened teachers.
One account claims that the same boy who shot and nearly killed his teacher two weeks ago threatened another teacher saying he wanted to set her on fire and watch her burn.
The Post story is crammed with horrifying accounts of violent outbursts by an out-of-control child allegedly terrorizing his fellow students and teachers.
If true, there needs to be a wholesale shake-up in that school and this bleeding heart nonsense needs to STOP.
School officials must explain why they allow students who have threatened violence against teachers to remain in the classroom. Then they need to tell us why THEY deserve to keep their jobs.
Here’s a question for Richneck school leaders: Is there anything they WON’T tolerate at that dysfunctional elementary school, where a substitute teacher told The Post that the kids were so frightening that after one day she refused to go back to that particular school?
Let’s back up for those who have already forgotten what happened earlier this month.
A little more than two weeks ago, on January 6, a 6-year-old boy at Richneck shot his teacher with a 9 mm handgun. Abigail Zwerner was taken to the hospital and listed in critical condition with a gunshot wound through her hand and chest.
It was a shooting so audacious and vicious by such a young perpetrator that it made international headlines.
So far school officials have been tight-lipped about the shooting and prosecutors have yet to bring charges.
But teachers — many begging for anonymity because they’re under an administration-imposed gag order and they fear retribution if they’re honest with the press — filled in many of the blanks for The Post.
According to numerous accounts, this child is extremely troubled. In a statement last week his parents said the following:
The boy’s family said in a statement Thursday, the first public remarks his relatives have given about the shooting, that the 6-year-old was “under a care plan” that “included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day.” That stopped the week of the shooting, the statement said.
“We will regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives,” the statement read.
I repeat, what the hell?
Richneck actually had a first grader whose problems were so severe that he couldn’t go to class without either his mommy or daddy present? On the first week they weren’t with him he shot and nearly killed a teacher?
How does that happen?
At this point, the kid’s privacy should take a backseat to the public’s right to know. School officials need to outline what sort of unacceptable behavior they’re willing to tolerate in the classroom.
This might be written off as an aberration until you remember that in September of 2021 a student at Heritage High School in Newport News brought a gun to school and shot two classmates.
That kid had already pleaded guilty to shooting someone else and was deemed so dangerous by the courts that he was fitted with an ankle bracelet so they could track him 24/7. Yet he was allowed to come to school every day and mingle with ordinary decent kids.
We covered the case in the fall of 2021 and got some heat for saying that any teen who’s dangerous enough to be electronically monitored by the courts should be kept far away from regular school classrooms.
The safety of schoolchildren trumps the rights of bad kids to secure an education.
The perpetrator from Heritage is now serving a 10-year “blended sentence.” Until he reaches 18 he’ll be housed in juvenile detention. He’ll be moved to a state pen when he reached adulthood.
Did I mention he had to shoot two classmates before getting booted from school?
Maybe the question we all ought to be asking is this one: what the hell is going on in Newport News Public Schools?
This column was first published in Kerry: Unemployed and Unedited and is republished with permission.