NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – The Newport News School Board voted to fire Superintendent Dr. George Parker III during a special meeting Wednesday.

The board voted 5-1 in favor of a separation agreement and severance for Parker. It also voted 5-1 to appoint Michele Mitchell, currently the executive director of special education, as the interim superintendent.

School Board Vice Chairwoman Dr. Terri Best said she had been a supporter of Parker, but she has heard concerns about the climate and culture in the school division, and raised those issues with him.

She suggested that division staff and parents have lost trust of Parker.

“Sometimes it’s just time for new leadership,” Best said.

She said she would continue to pray for teacher Abby Zwerner, who was shot by a 6-year-old boy in her classroom, and Best said she would also pray for the child.

“I do believe that we will get through this,” Best said. “I support the separation agreement.”

Board member Marvin Harris said that this decision is an opportunity for them to show that “tragedy can breed greatness.”

However, board member Gary Hunter opposed the separation agreement with Parker.

Board chairman Dr. Lisa R. Surles-Law said it is time for the board to start anew with a new leader for the division.

“I hear we need to reset ourselves,” Surles-Law said. “It will require all of us, in the community and on the board. Our commitment is to our students, and out of this tragedy, we need to see opportunity.”