“After it was reported that the student may have had a weapon, a search of the book bag was conducted. The administrator has been notified.”

“At least one administrator was notified of a possible weapon,” said Superintendent Dr. George Parker

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVITY) — Newport News Public Schools has released new information about the shooting of a teacher at Richneck Elementary School.

During a virtual town hall with Richneck parents Thursday, officials say at least one administrator knew the six-year-old student might have been carrying a gun hours before the shooting.

Thursday’s town hall was for Richneck parents only, but one parent shared the access link with 10 On Your Side.

Support Dr. George Parker said there was a report that the boy may have had a weapon with him when he arrived at the school Friday morning.

His backpack was searched, but nothing was found. Two and a half hours later, the police stormed the school after the boy shot his first-grader.

“At least one administrator was alerted to the possible weapon,” Dr. Parker said.

The Newport News School Board said at a press conference Thursday that the administrative changes will take place at Rychneck and parents will be notified at City Hall. During the town hall meeting, Dr. Parker did not say what the administrative change was, but said the district was reviewing the timeline for when the administrator was notified of the possible weapons.

The principal told the parents that he had contacted Rob’s elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, for advice on how to proceed. Last May, 19 children and two adults were killed in a shooting at Rob’s school.

“We contacted Uvalde in Texas, who was very gracious in communicating with us,” Dr. Parker stated.

After three school shootings in three years, Newport News Public Schools is changing the way it keeps the district safe. Dr. Parker told parents that he is considering requiring clear plastic backpacks for Richneck students to be purchased by the district.

Richneck Elementary is also in the process of adding a partition and door to the 2nd grade hallway and installing permanent metal detectors. Dr. Parker also shared plans to renovate the school’s front entrance, installing a working buzzer system and double entry so staff can see who is trying to enter the building.

At a press conference held several hours earlier, school board chairwoman Lisa Searles-Lowe announced the district’s plans to add permanent metal detectors to all schools. Funding was just secured Wednesday by the school board for 90 state-of-the-art devices. The detectors can identify the weapons without slowing down the morning arrivals.

“So we just got approval to buy them yesterday. We are in the process of fulfilling these orders. We asked that we immediately get those for Richneck,” said Surles-Law.

The move, a big step in security, Dr. Parker alluded to during a joint press conference with police and city officials Monday regarding Rychnek.

Dr. Parker addressed the public saying that the Richneck shooting was 100% preventable and that he would reconsider his position on the stationary metal detector. After the 2021 Heritage High School shooting. Dr. Parker told 10 On Your Side that he doesn’t support stationary metal detectors because he doesn’t want the school to feel like a prison for students when it should be a place of learning.

Father Tom Amann praised the district’s decision to purchase metal detectors.

“Metal detectors in every school and in every entrance is a step. Empowering our teachers to take back their classrooms and get rid of the students who destroy them is a start. But again it comes back to culture. If teachers don’t feel heard, and if teachers and students don’t feel safe, they can’t teach and they can’t learn,” Aman told 10 On Your Side.

In the meantime, Dr. Parker told Rychnek’s parents that the district is still working on when students can return to the classroom.

“We want to be sure that we have measures in place that allow our teachers and our students, and you, our parents, to feel confident that your student is walking into a safe building every day,” Dr. Parker said.

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