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Richneck principal reassigned, attorney to make public statement

Attorney Pamela Branch will hold a press conference in Richmond Thursday afternoon to issue Briana Foster Newton's first statement since the school shooting.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The principal at Richneck Elementary School has been reassigned, weeks after a 6-year-old student shot his first-grade teacher, a spokesperson for Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) confirmed Wednesday.

Michelle Price with NNPS said Briana Foster-Newton is still employed with the school division, but she didn't specify in what capacity.

On the same day, employment attorney Pamela Branch announced she will hold a press conference in Richmond Thursday afternoon to issue Newton's first statement since the Jan. 6 shooting.

The confirmation of Foster-Newton's status came after several personnel changes in wake of the shooting.

Last week, Assistant Principal Dr. Ebony Parker resigned from her position and the Newport News School Board ousted Superintendent Dr. George Parker amid criticism by parents and teachers.

Before that, Karen Lynch, an extended learning supervisor for the school system, was made the leader of the Richneck team, taking on some of the responsibilities of the principal.

The shooting happened inside a classroom when a 6-year-old boy shot first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner, 25. Her injuries were critical, but she made progress in recovering and has since been released from the hospital.

The student was taken into custody and to a hospital to be evaluated and cared for, according to Newport News police. Because he's a minor, his identity is unknown.

On Jan. 25, Zwerner's attorney, Diane Toscano, announced her intentions to file a lawsuit against Newport News Public Schools on the teacher's behalf. 

She claimed that administrators failed to act despite several warnings from teachers and employees that the student had a gun and was threatening people the day of the shooting.

Richneck closed following the shooting, but students made their return to the classroom Monday with new precautions in place, including a metal detector at the entrance.

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