Uvalde nonprofit cancels grant to Richneck Elementary due to “abject failure” by administration
A Texas nonprofit that supports schools after campus shootings announced that it’s canceling a grant for Richneck Elementary School.
Instead, the Uvalde Foundation for Kids plans to send the money directly to Abby Zwerner, the 25-year-old teacher shot by her 6-year-old student on Jan. 6.
The change is “due to developing circumstances” at the Newport News school, the foundation said in a statement Sunday.
“Given recent events at the school, the oversight and responsibility of the grant program itself would not be appropriate for the school itself to implement,” foundation officials wrote.
The foundation developed after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas last May.
Its leaders have been coordinating with Richneck since the shooting to provide trauma support and safety resources, they said.
The new award for Zwerner is the first of what the foundation’s calling a “Hero Grant,” and it’s named after her.
Details continue to emerge since the shooting about the administration’s alleged lack of action in the months, days and hours leading up to it.
Zwerner’s attorney, Diane Toscano, recently sent a letter to the Newport News School Board notifying officials of the teacher’s intent to sue the system.
The letter claims that Richneck administrators were warned several times about the student’s erratic behavior on the day of the shooting, as well as the fact that he had a gun with him.
The document also outlines how the student previously committed violent acts on campus, including chasing children on the playground while trying to whip them with a belt, and choking a teacher “until she couldn’t breathe.”
Richneck’s assistant principal resigned shortly after Toscano sent the letter. The school board then fired Superintendent George Parker.
Daniel Chapin, founder of the Uvalde foundation, said in an interview with a Virginia TV station that the decision on the grant is tied to accountability.
“Ms. Zwerner, at least four different times — we can’t ignore this fact — asked for help,” Chapin said. “And if we can’t trust the school to care in that way, are we going to trust them with hundreds and thousands of dollars on Abby’s behalf? We don’t feel comfortable with that.”
In an email to WHRO, the foundation further called officials’ behavior “abject failure … as human beings, much less ‘administrators.’"
They said the grant amount begins at $500 and is based on annual donations and therefore subject to rise.
After the foundation’s announcement, Newport News Public Schools released a brief statement saying the system is grateful for the nonprofit’s support.