Ex-Assistant Principal at School Where 6-Year-Old Shot Teacher Is Indicted


The mother of the 6-year-old boy, Deja Taylor, was sentenced in December to two years in prison after pleading guilty to felony child neglect. Earlier, she was sentenced to 21 months after pleading guilty to using marijuana while owning a firearm and making false statements about drug use. The indictment against Ms. Parker was also unsealed on the day that two parents in Michigan were sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison for failing to prevent their son from killing four fellow students in the deadliest school shooting in that state’s history.

The former assistant principal, who resigned after the shooting at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Va., is among several school employees listed as defendants in a lawsuit filed last year by the teacher, Abigail Zwerner, who was seriously injured on Jan. 6, 2023, when the boy pulled out the gun during the middle of an afternoon class, aimed it at her and fired. A single bullet passed through Ms. Zwerner’s hand and struck her chest.

According to the suit, which seeks $40 million, the boy had “a history of random violence,” including attacks on students and teachers, with which all the defendants were familiar, and had been removed from kindergarten in the 2021-2022 school year “after he strangled and choked a teacher.” He was allowed to return in the fall of 2022, but was placed on a modified schedule, which required one of his parents to accompany him at school, though neither were present on the day of the shooting.

Teachers’ concerns with his behavior were regularly brought to the attention of school administrators, but were “always dismissed,” according to the civil case. On the morning of the shooting, Ms. Zwerner told Ms. Parker that the boy was in a “violent mood” and had threatened to beat up a younger child, but Ms. Parker had “no response,” according to the suit.

During recess, Ms. Zwerner became suspicious that the boy might have a weapon, and informed two other school employees, according to the suit. One of them searched his backpack but did not find anything, and after recess, told Ms. Parker that, though she could not find anything, the boy had claimed to have a gun, and that Ms. Zwerner had seen him remove something from his backpack, lawyers in the civil case said.

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