Art teacher accused of choking student

SANTA FE (KRQE) – The parents of a boy who claims his art teacher choked him at Atalaya Elementary School are suing the teacher, Santa Fe Public Schools and the school board.

The complaint was filed Thursday in District Court in Santa Fe by the boy’s parents, Roberta Johnson and Joey Sandoval, seeking unspecified damages and compensation.

According to the complaint, the then 6-year-old boy was in Mastrangelo’s art class in December 2012. The complaint charges that Mastrangelo became “outraged” because the boy was talking out of turn. It alleges Mastrangelo put the first grader in a chokehold, lifted him up against the wall by his neck, and that she shoved him repeatedly while screaming at him.

Attorney John Day, who’s representing the family, said the district didn’t dispute the alleged incident.

“We were contacted by the district a while back and they told us the parents had better shut up about this and not talk about this incident,” Day said. “We understood that as a threat made of retaliation against the parents, and that’s totally inappropriate.”

Officials with Santa Fe Public Schools said they were aware a lawsuit has been filed, but they haven’t been formally served with it yet. The district confirms Mastrangelo resigned in February 2013, about two months after the alleged incident.

KRQE News 13 was unable to reach Mastrangelo Friday for comment.

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