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Tip line for Newport News Public School employees aims to create transparency

The recent shooting at Richneck Elementary School sparked a wave of discussions regarding concerns within the Newport News Public Schools division.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — In the weeks following the shooting at Richneck Elementary School, Newport News Public School teachers and other employees have addressed the school board and administrators with concerns they say they've had for years.

At the special school board meeting days after the shooting, teachers said they've expressed concerns over a lack of security at some elementary schools...a concern one teacher said was not fully addressed by administrators. They said the recent shooting at Richneck sparked them to speak out.

"I heard teachers saying that administration doesn't listen to them...that administration don't take them seriously," said President of the Newport News Education Association James Graves.

Graves said he and his team of executives with the association wanted to find a way to allow school employees to report any problems without the fear of retaliation. So, they posted on social media, asking anyone with concerns to email the Education Association. 

"If an employee feels something is going on or something is unfair, if they are members, they can email me and I will address the issue with the proper administration and school board to get a resolution to it," said Graves.

This tip line comes on the heels of teachers claiming they warned administrators a 6-year-old student had a gun at Richneck Elementary School hours before police say he shot his first-grade teacher, Abby Zwerner. Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said administrators did not notify his department about the suspicion of a gun prior to the shooting, either.

Graves said the shooting at Richneck was not the only reason he wanted to create the tip line. He said when employees expressed their concerns to the school board, he realized this platform was needed well before the incident at the elementary school.

He said he's consistently taking these reported problems and addressing them with the school board members and school administrators.

"What we're trying to do is get all the information gathered and come with a resolution, along with their concerns. We can have complaints, we can have concerns, but we also need some solutions to any issue," said Graves. "You have the right to speak and you have the right to say what you need to say."

Graves said right now, the tip line is mainly through his email, which is nnea.newportnews@gmail.com.

He said he hopes to create an 800 number, so employees can call in their concerns. 

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