Virginia School Administrator Indicted by Grand Jury

John Ransom | April 11, 2024

(The Lion) — The former assistant principal at the Newport News, Virginia elementary school where a 6-year-old student shot his teacher has been indicted for child abuse.

The unsealed indictment states that Ebony J. Parker showed “a reckless disregard for human life,” according to The Virginia Pilot.

Altogether the grand jury billed eight counts of felony child neglect against Parker, each carrying a maximum sentence of five years, said the newspaper.

Prosecutors recommended a $4,000 secured bond and the surrender of her passport for the 39-year-old Parker, said local WAVY, which posted the indictment dated March11. 

The charges stem from the January 2023 shooting at Richneck Elementary School, where teacher Abigail Zwerner took severe gunshot wounds to the hand and chest after she had previously warned school administrators of the danger posed by the student, according to the $40 million lawsuit filed by Zwerner against the school system. 

The lawsuit contends that Zwerner warned the school three times about the student before the shooting. 

Zwerner said she told Parker at 11:15 a.m. that the student was in a “violent mood” and had “threatened to beat up” another student, said the lawsuit, according to The Pilot.  

Students then reported that the boy had a gun at school, said the lawsuit.  

Zwerner told two other teachers she saw the boy take something out of his backpack, and other teachers and a school employee reportedly expressed concern to Parker about the boy, who allegedly showed the gun off at recess before 1 p.m.  

Parker, the lawsuit said, disregarded the concerns.  

Zwerner was shot just before 2 p.m. 

“These charges are very serious and underscore the failure of the school district to act to prevent the tragic shooting of Abby Zwerner,” Zwerner’s legal team said in a statement, reported WAVY. “The school board continues to deny their responsibility to Abby, and this indictment is just another brick in the wall of mounting failures and gross negligence in their case.” 

In December 2023, the mother of the student, Deja Taylor, was sentenced to two years in prison for felony child neglect for allowing the child to take the weapon to school. Previously, she had been sentenced to 21 months in a federal prison for using marijuana while owning a gun, according to CBSNews. 

The new two-year prison sentence imposed by the judge was harsher than prosecutors sought in a plea deal with Taylor. 

It’s also much harsher than the plea deal that prosecutors sought for President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who owned a firearm while admitting to being addicted to crack cocaine. 

That deal was also quashed by a judge. 

Parker was booked into jail and then released after securing the bond, said local 13 News Now.