In a distressing incident at Volcano Vista High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a classroom activity involving sword dueling led to a teenage girl sustaining severe injuries. Arnold and Judy Gachupin, the girl’s guardians and grandparents, have filed a lawsuit against Albuquerque Public Schools, Assistant Principal Manuel Alzaga, and former chemistry teacher Loviata Mitchell, citing negligence and permanent harm to the student, identified as N.S. in court documents. The event, which took place on May 2, 2022, reportedly involved students engaging in duels with katana- and rapier-style swords brought in by Mitchell, resulting in N.S. suffering a deep laceration to her right hand and wrist.

The lawsuit details the alarming sequence of events where, under the teacher’s direction, desks were rearranged to form a dueling ring, and students were paired off to fight. N.S.’s encounter with a classmate referred to as D.M. ended in a tragic injury inflicted by a strike from a katana-style sword. The aftermath saw the teacher in panic, allegedly instructing students to delete any video evidence of the duels and delaying emergency response to the injured student.

Aftermath and Legal Proceedings

The repercussions of this incident have been profound for N.S., necessitating multiple surgeries, physical therapy, and mental health counseling to address the physical and psychological trauma endured. The lawsuit emphasizes the permanent damage to N.S.’s nerves and tendons, highlighting the ongoing challenges she faces in performing everyday tasks and the persistent pain and disability resulting from the injury. The girl’s guardians are seeking justice and accountability through the legal system, challenging the school’s response to the incident and the adequacy of its safety protocols.

In response to the lawsuit, Albuquerque Public Schools and the implicated assistant principal have refrained from commenting due to the pending litigation. Loviata Mitchell, who was terminated from her position in July 2022, has not publicly addressed the allegations. The case has raised critical questions regarding student safety and the responsibility of educators and school administrators to prevent such hazardous activities within educational settings.