Virginia Beach mom of special needs student sues after assault charges dropped

VIRGINIA BEACH — A special needs student’s mother is suing after a principal and teacher were cleared of assault charges here.

Seven-year-old Eric Chapman testified in March that he had been dragged from a classroom at Rosemont Elementary School and had his head pushed down after he disrupted class.

Special education teacher Alison Williams said Eric didn’t respond to her attempts to calm him down. Principal Cari Hall said the boy then refused to walk to her office, so she carried him there in a bear hug, as she was trained to do.

Eric’s mother, Latasha Holloway, filed a $6 million lawsuit on Tuesday, asserting they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and Eric’s civil and constitutional rights by unlawfully restraining, isolating and assaulting him.

The school district wouldn’t comment.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.