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Psychologist weighs in after mother of 6-year-old boy who shot Richneck teacher talks child's care plan

Deja Taylor explained her son was on a care plan at Richneck Elementary school where she would accompany him every day in class...until the week of the shooting.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — "Good Morning America" released more of its interview with Deja Taylor, the mother of the 6-year-old boy who police say shot his teacher, Abby Zwerner, last January.

The 25-year-old mother said her son entered a care plan at Richneck Elementary School in the fall of 2022. She said her son struggles with ADHD, describing him as a child who is "off the wall" and "never sits still."

In Zwerner's $40 million lawsuit against Newport News Public Schools, her attorneys said the 6-year-old boy displayed violent acts since his time in kindergarten, including choking his kindergarten teacher. The lawsuit went on to say the boy cursed at his guidance counselors and put his hand up a fellow classmate's skirt.

Taylor and her attorney wouldn't fully discuss the allegations in the lawsuit.

But, she said as a result of this behavior and his ADHD, she and another family member would accompany the child in the classroom every day as part of a care plan with the school. 

However, Taylor said neither she nor her other family members came to class with the boy the week of the shooting.

"Because we ended up working with another doctor," said Taylor. "He started medication and was meeting his goals academically."

"Let's not pinhole the child's behavior on a specific condition," Virginia Beach Clinical Psychologist and parenting expert Dr. Adolph "Doc" Brown said, referring to Taylor's son's ADHD diagnosis. 

Dr. Brown said addressing mental health in children takes a great deal of time and patience. 

"Sometimes, it can take several months," Dr. Brown explained. "Schools can't do it alone. They are at home more than they are at school. We see our children do things. As a result, let's not ignore it." 

Brown talked about the importance of understanding each child is different and that there is no universal guide to cover each problem displayed in a classroom. He said children need everyone's attention when it comes to addressing their behaviors.

"We have to not ignore these cries for help," said Dr. Brown. "This is a puzzle, folks. And when I say a puzzle, we're constantly looking for the pieces and that's why these evaluations take so long because you want to rule out other things."

To this day, it's unclear how the 6-year-old boy got ahold of his mother's handgun. Taylor and her attorney said she had the gun secured in their home.

Taylor faces a felony count of child neglect and recklessly leaving a gun near a child. Her bench trial is scheduled for August 15.

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