NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – The Newport News School Board could be on the verge of parting ways with Superintendent Dr. George Parker III.
On the agenda for Wednesday’s special School Board meeting at 6 p.m. is an item to approve a separation agreement and severance with Parker and a vote to appoint an interim superintendent. Four of the six members of the board would have to vote to approve a separation agreement and severance for Parker to be removed as superintendent.
Parker has been dealing with the aftermath of the shooting at Richneck Elementary School, which has been closed since Jan. 6, when police say a 6-year-old student shot Newport News first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner.
The board is meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday and is scheduled to go into closed session “for the purpose of discussing the assignment, appointment and performance of specific administrators in the school division.”
School board members declined to comment on Tuesday’s closed meeting with member Douglas Brown telling 10 On Your Side, “I can’t comment on a pending vote given we haven’t debated or voted yet.
A Newport News parent who has a daughter in 2nd grade at Richneck Elementary and a son who attend Heritage High School during the Sept. 2021 shooting there, sent the following statement:
“My child cried nightly for five days straight, associating death with her school, and is worried it will happen again.”
The woman tells us she’s looking into virtual options for her daughter and does not feel confident in sending her back to school. She tells us she is happy Dr. Parker could be voted out and says after the shooting at Heritage, she never felt like enough was done for what those kids experienced and that metal detectors are a temporary fix.
Wednesday’s meeting is scheduled to go into closed session first “for the purpose of (1) discussing a separation agreement and severance with the Superintendent and (2) the appointment of an interim Superintendent” before the board is scheduled to vote on those matters and vote on the appointment of a new interim superintendent.
Dr. Parker’s role and hold over the school division was repeatedly questioned at last Tuesday’s school board meeting.
“Dr. Parker after each of these shootings that occurred on your watch, your response was that we would re-evaluate. Why did it take negative national attention because you actually took this seriously and re-evaluated it? I think it’s time, the citizens and parents of Newport News, who did not elect you, to re-evaluate your services as our superintendent,” said parent Erin Arsenault during the meeting’s public comment.
Newport News resident Jay Pruden also spoke out at last week’s meeting calling on the board to fire Dr. Parker.
“I hope you have the moxie to make this decision, I really do. Because you can’t change the past, you can only impact the future and I think the only way you can impact the future in a positive way is you need to change the leadership,” Pruden stated.
Parker was appointed superintendent of Newport News Public Schools effective July 1, 2018. Parker had previously served as superintendent of Caroline County Public Schools. He had also been a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent of secondary schools in Virginia Beach City Public Schools before being named superintendent in Caroline County in 2015.