NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – A little more than a month after police say a six-year-old shot his first grade teacher, 10 On Your Side has obtained Superintendent Dr. George Parker III’s final letter to Newport News Public Schools.
The letter, dated Jan. 25, was written immediately after the school board voted to terminate Parker as superintendent. It is addressed to everyone in the school division.
The one-page letter starts off by thanking the school board and all employees of Newport News Public Schools. Dr. Parker was fired in a 5-1 vote during a specially-called meeting Jan. 25 five days after a trespassing and assault incident at Menchville High School and less than three weeks after the shooting at Richneck Elementary.
Parker states “this decision was made without cause and after careful consideration of the future of NNPS.”
In the letter, he extends best wishes to the school division, and in particular, to Abby Zwerner, the Richneck Elementary School first-grade teacher who was shot, and the school’s staff “in their recovery from this unfortunate and tragic incident.”
“I am truly indebted to you for the hard work that has been on display throughout my tenure,” Parker said. “I will truly miss you all.”
The remainder of the letter focused on the progress Parker said the district made during his five years as superintendent, in which teacher pay increased by 19.6% and bus drivers saw a 14% pay increase.
Parker also cited the district’s mental health services and mental health therapy, in which Newport News Public Schools received national recognition for its clinical psychological services.
Parker ended his final address by saying he would continue to root for the entire NNPS team and future leadership, wishing the district a bright future.
Parker was officially relieved as superintendent this month, walking away with a $502,000 severance. Zwerner continues her recovery from the shooting and has hired an attorney, with plans to sue the school district.