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School board attorneys compare shootings to workplace injuries

On Behalf of | Jun 29, 2023 | Workplace Injuries

A recent legal debate began brewing in Newport News, Virginia, regarding a local teacher who survived a shooting. The fallout of this heated debate could impact teachers in California and the rest of the United States.

The details behind this recent shooting

In January 2023, a teacher named Abby Zwerner was enjoying a normal workday watching over her first-grade students. As she was reading at her desk, bullets suddenly rang out of a gun fired by a six-year-old student. This student brought his mother’s legally purchased firearm to school. His shots would wound Zwerner in the hand and chest.

Abby Zwerner and her legal representatives filed a $40 million lawsuit against the Newport News School Board for not taking action to prevent this shooting. The shooter’s mother pled guilty to illegally obtaining the firearm her son used to shoot Zwerner. She could face up to 25 years in federal prison.

A motion outrages the Newport News community

Attorneys working on behalf of the school board made an argument that quickly enraged the local community. These attorneys filed a motion only allowing Abby Zwerner to file a worker’s compensation claim. The motion alleges that Zwerner getting shot was a “workplace injury,” suggesting her lawsuit is invalid.

The President of the Newport News Education Association, James Graves, disagreed with the school board lawyers’ motion. Graves called comparing teacher-involved shootings to workplace injuries “ridiculous.”

Zwerner alleges she stopped receiving wages from Richneck Elementary School in February 2023. In March, Zwerner let this school’s board know about her intent to resign from her position. The Richneck Elementary School board reported that the last day of Zwerner’s contract was June 12th.