Students get in bloody sword duel in classroom

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – A former teacher at Volcano Vista High School in New Mexico is facing a lawsuit for encouraging a sword fight between students, resulting in severe injury to a 16-year-old girl. Identified as N.S. in court documents, the student was left with lasting damage, including severed nerves and tendons, following the incident in May 2022.

The teacher, Loviata Mitchell, allegedly set up a makeshift ring using desks, gave two students katana and rapier-style swords, and had them duel. During one of these matches, N.S. suffered a deep cut across her right forearm, wrist, and hand, according to the lawsuit.

Mitchell purportedly recognized her liability and asked students to delete any video footage of the duels they had taken. However, a recording kept by the injured student showed two boys fighting with swords, surrounded by desks and a timer projected on a large screen. After her injury, members of the school only contacted N.S.’s grandfather 20 minutes later and called 911 a full 30 minutes after the occurrence.

As a result of the incident, the girl sought physical therapy and mental health support and underwent several surgeries due to ongoing pain and decreased functionality in her hand. Her lawyer, Jessica Hernandez, pointed out that N.S.’s life has changed dramatically and that she can’t perform many basic daily tasks due to her injury.

The lawsuit also named an assistant principal, Manuel Alzaga, as a defendant for allegedly downplaying the incident in a school report, suggesting the injury occurred during a “lesson on metal and melding” and did not violate any school rules.

The Albuquerque Public Schools district refused to comment on the lawsuit initiated by Arnold and Judy Gachupin, the girl’s grandparents and legal guardians. However, they confirmed that Mitchell had been dismissed from her position in July 2022.