Saturday, June 23, 2018
Education

Student targeted in 2013 attack at Calvin Hunsinger School sues Pinellas district

It's been four years since Vanessa Chauvin left Calvin Hunsinger School in an ambulance after a classmate grabbed her ponytail and repeatedly kneed her stomach and face.

Fourteen years old at the time, she suffered a concussion, broken jaw and cracked eye socket. At the time, her parents vowed to sue the Pinellas County school district.

Chauvin, now 18, and her parents, LoriAnn and David Chauvin, have made good on that pledge with a lawsuit in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court against the district and the classmate who attacked her. Because the classmate is still a minor, she is being sued through her parents, identified as M.D. and P.D.

The suit, filed last week, seeks damages of over $15,000 for physical pain and suffering and medically related expenses. It alleges the School Board negligently failed to provide a safe environment for Chauvin and protect her from harassment on multiple occasions, and did not adequately supervise the student who attacked her. That student was walking out of in-school suspension when she attacked Chauvin. A male classmate recorded the beating and posted the video online.

The suit says the student had "an escalating and recidivist pattern of disruptive and aggressive conduct" at school, and was never properly disciplined by the School Board. In 2013, the district said the student would likely face suspension or expulsion.

District spokeswoman Melanie Parra said Friday the district had not received the complaint and could not comment.

The Chauvin family also is suing the student for battery and for suffering from the "loss of companionship, love, affection, solace and society of her child now and in the future."

Documents attached to the lawsuit show that John Thurber, the lawyer representing the Chauvin family, first filed claims against Calvin Hunsinger School one week after the February 2013 incident.

Neither Thurber nor the Chauvin family could be reached for comment.

Researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Colleen Wright at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643. Follow @Colleen_Wright.

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