NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – The Uvalde Foundation For Kids announced Sunday that it has canceled Richneck Elementary Schools’ oversight for the grant named after the teacher who was shot by her student.
The foundation says that it will now be working with Zwerner and her representatives to oversee the grant directly.
According to a press release, the foundation decided to cancel the school’s oversight “due to developing circumstances at Richneck Elementary School.” They continued by saying due to recent events, the oversight and responsibility of the program would not be appropriate for the school to implement.
The foundation’s founder, Daniel Chapin said part of those developing circumstances included the lack of accountability on the school’s part.
“If we can’t trust that the school will care for the concerns of its teachers to make sure they’re safe and are able to care for their kids, in all confidence I cannot put hundreds and thousands of dollars into the pockets of those same individuals that donors from around the nation are contributing,” Chapin said.
“Newport News Public Schools is grateful for the support received from the Uvalde Foundation for Kids following the tragic incident at Richneck Elementary School last month,” said an NNPS spokesperson following the changes. “NNPS is appreciative the foundation will work directly with Ms. Zwerner to implement and manage the Hero Grant award.”
Almost three weeks after the shooting occurred, Abby Zwerner’s attorney announced their intent to sue Newport News Public Schools. Her attorney said teachers warned Richneck Elementary administrators four different times of a 6-year-old boy’s dangerous actions on the day of the shooting and that they didn’t take action.
Chapin said he didn’t make the decision to switch the hands of the money on a whim and consulted many people beforehand.
“I’m looking at 32 emails from people that said we would donate to the fund because teachers deserve it like Abby, but not if Richneck oversees it,” he said.
Even with the slew of developments after the January 6th shooting, Chapin said an email from one of Zwerner’s first-grade students finalized the decision.
The email read, “I love Abby. I don’t know where she is. I hope she’s ok.”
Chapin has been in the same line of business since he walked the halls of Columbine High School in 1999. The tragic school shooting ended with fifteen people dead.
He said to fix the longstanding problem of guns in schools, people must first fix their own internal issues.
“But we’ve got to start by being human beings and they failed in that aspect. They don’t like me telling them that, but that’s ok.”
The grant, which is named the “Hero” Grant Award after Abby Zwerner, will be awarded annually to a deserving teacher from across the country.
The first grant is expected to be presented to Zwerner on Mar. 20. Anyone can donate any amount toward the fund by can go to Uvalde | The Uvalde Foundation For Kids | Temple and click the donate page and either donate through PayPal with their memo as “Abby’s Hero Grant” – or go to the GuideStar link also listed on the site. The deadline to donate is Mar 19.