The families of two of Rychnek’s students plan to sue Newport News Public Schools

Families send letters of intent to sue school division Jan. 30 — 6 days after attorney Diane Toscano sent her own notice of intent to sue on behalf of teacher Abby Zwerner

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – The families of two Rychneck Elementary School students have notified Newport News Public Schools of their intent to file lawsuits against them.

The families sent letters of intent to sue Newport News Public Schools on Jan. 30 — six days after attorney Diane Toscano sent her own notice of intent to the school department on behalf of first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner. A 25-year-old girl was seriously injured after her 6-year-old student shot her in a classroom on Jan. 6, according to police.

Zwerner’s letter of intent to sue focuses primarily on allegations that teachers and staff said they suspected the 6-year-old boy had a weapon at least three times to Rychnek’s former deputy director, Dr. Ebony Parker, and the administrator remained silent. Parker resigned from the district on January 25.

The letters of intent to sue, sent on behalf of the two Richneck students, were filed separately and unrelated to each other.

The 10 On Your Side Investigative Team spoke with the parents of one of the children. That parent is being represented by attorney Emily Mapp Brennan and has asked to remain anonymous. They told us they sent the school department a letter of intent to sue because their son was in the cafeteria with the accused 6-year-old on the day of the shooting, and the gun may have been in his hoodie pocket.

The letter of intent to sue filed on behalf of the student does not provide any details about their experience at Rychneck on January 6. It said Brennan had been brought in to represent the boy for “injuries sustained in a school shooting.”

The family of a first-grader who was in Zwerner’s classroom at the time of the shooting also filed a lawsuit on behalf of their daughter. The letter claims that the girl was bullied, harassed and assaulted in Rychnek during the current school year.

The girl’s parents repeatedly reported their concerns to NNPS, but the school department failed to protect their daughter, according to the letter.

This story is evolving. Check 10 On Your Side for updates.

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