First day of school: Richneck Elementary starts year with new safety measures
Kids walked up to Richneck with parents and said hi to their classmates. It would be a typical first day — except for everyone's clear backpacks, the police cars and the reporters.
Most of those are part of Newport News' enhanced safety measures introduced this school year.
Richneck was the site of the shooting of teacher Abby Zwerner by one of her six-year-old students.
In the wake of the shooting and Zwerner’s hospitalization, school leaders were fired and Zwerner filed a lawsuit against the district. She claims school leaders disregarded warnings about a student with a gun in the school.
Volunteers from the Uvalde Foundation, formed after a mass shooting at Robb Elementary school in Texas, said they will help patrol school grounds throughout the school year.
Those volunteers were difficult to spot as students arrived on campus. Notably, the foundation awarded and withdrew a grant in the wake of the shooting as more leadership was ousted. The grant was repurposed as a “Hero Award” to Zwerner.
On the first day of school, uniformed officers checked parents as they entered the building. Newport News also purchased weapons detection systems for all schools over the last year.
Teachers told WHRO earlier this month they are optimistic about the school district's changes.
The mother of the Richneck shooter, Deja Taylor, pled guilty a few weeks ago to child abuse for letting her son have access to the gun he brought to school. She also faced federal charges in June. She'll be sentenced in state and federal court in October.
Her son is in the custody of his great-grandfather. He will not face any charges relating to the shooting due to his age.
Newport News Public Schools is part of the Hampton Roads Educational Telecommunications Association, which owns WHRO’s broadcast license.