Newport News (Va.) district plans to add metal detectors at all schools

Feb. 22, 2023
A first-grade teacher was shot and wounded in January by a 6-year-old boy at a Newport News elementary school.

Several weeks after a first-grade student shot a teacher at one of its schools, the Newport News (Va.) School District said it plans to install metal detectors in all schools.

WTKR-TV reports that the district has ordered 74 metal detectors to boost security at school campuses. Two Newport News schools already have metal detectors—Heritage High School and Richneck Elementary School, where first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner was shot and wounded on Jan. 6 by a 6-year-old boy in her classroom.

Zwerner is recovering from her injuries after being hospitalized for several days. In the aftermath of the shooting, accusations arose that school administrators had been warned three times on the day of the shooting that the boy had a gun or had made threats but failed to take action. The district superintendent resigned; the assistant principal at Richneck also resigned, and the Richneck principal was reassigned.

District administrators told the school board at a Tuesday night meeting that they plan to have all detection systems installed by March 14. In addition, board members want to hire additional security guards to monitor the systems.

Newport News Public Schools Chief of Staff Rashard Wright says the district’s goal is to have two security guards in all Newport News elementary schools by March 14.

At a school board meeting, parents again expressed concern about student safety and the district's response to the Richneck shooting.

James Graves, the president of the Newport News Education Association, said he wants to see a change in student discipline.

“The metal detectors, that’s fine,” he said. “But the behavior issue is what we need to target.”

The district also says it plans to hire behavioral support coaches in the coming months to support teachers addressing students' behavior.

Video: Newport News School Board meeting, Feb. 21, 2023:

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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