VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A judge dismissed assault charges against a principal and a special education teacher, after video from Rosemont Elementary showed them pulling, dragging and carrying a special needs child through school hallways.
Principal Cari Hall and teacher Alison Williams testified Thursday that Eric Chapman’s behavior inside his classroom, out of view from the surveillance cameras, made their actions necessary to maintain safety and order. Judge James Broccoletti agreed, saying that the Virginia assault statute gives educators more latitude.
“(The case) was dismissed as it should be,” said Hall’s attorney Michael Robusto. “It’s a shame that with everything teachers and administrators have to deal with in today’s world in these schools that they have to defend claims like this.”
Chapman’s mother Latasha Holloway had sought representation from the Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney last fall after she filed the misdemeanor charges through a magistrate. That office declined, saying her case did not have enough evidence based on the statute.
Hall and Williams told their side of the incidents captured in the video from June 1 and June 6, 2017.
They testified that their actions were necessary because Eric had flipped over a desk, threw a book, kicked other students and disrupted his first grade classroom.
Williams’ attorney, Wanda Cooper, says the law has an exception for teachers for good reason.
“The teacher has to be able to intervene in a situation that can become very dangerous to keep everybody safe.”
Holloway says she understands the ruling given the law, but says she’s very disappointed and disturbed. She says she will lobby to get the law changed on behalf of parents of children with special needs. A child psychologist told the court that Eric has PTSD, ADHD, and depression and is on the autism spectrum.