LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A physical education teacher at a Las Vegas charter school is facing charges of child abuse for allegedly dragging a student across a gym floor by his leg, pinning his head against a wall, and then putting him in a closet.
James Michael Manning, 47, was arrested on Oct. 16 after the mother of the 6-year-old boy reported the alleged incidents to police and an investigation was conducted.
The mother told police she first noticed an abrasion on the side of her son’s chest on Sept. 29 and the boy told her he got scraped in PE class. According to the arrest report, when the abrasion was still visible days later, the mother questioned her son again, and he told her Manning dragged him by his leg across the floor on Sept. 26 causing what was later described as a “turf burn” injury.
The mother notified Legacy Traditional School, a charter school in North Las Vegas, about the injury, resulting in Manning being placed on administrative leave.
Police documents state that when police visited the school, the officer was told Manning had three prior incidents the previous school year regarding school conduct. However, police were unable to confirm that information because the school refused to provide the details without a subpoena. Police are requesting one.
During an interview with police, Manning denied dragging the child, but another staff member at the school said when she asked her class if they recalled a “weird” incident during PE, at least 16 students said they saw Manning drag their classmate on “turf carpet for a long period of time and then he (Manning) picked him (the boy) up, holding him like a baby.” All of this occurred after the boy kicked a ball, hitting another student in the head, according to the report.
Police also learned that classmates said they witnessed Manning pin the child’s head against a foam wall, hit the bottom of his chin to force his mouth closed, and then later put the boy in a dark equipment closet, which caused the child to start crying, documents stated.
Manning, who told police that he was fired from the school, said he was shocked by the allegations and would never hurt a child. He added that the boy was a “problem child” and he did admit he has “held kids against a wall by pressing their shoulder and arms against the wall with his hand but only in a playful manner” and he may have pulled the child by his leg in a “playful manner,” the arrest report said.
North Las Vegas police said they are searching for additional victims in the child abuse case.
Parent Ashlee Huerta has two kids who attend Legacy Traditional North. She didn’t know about this incident but until the 8 News Now Investigators showed her the 8-page police report.. She said she’d already been considering pulling her kids out of this school. Learning that Manning admitted to spanking students in a playful manner and possibly grabbed and pulled this student playfully, she’d heard enough.
“Just, so many incidents have, like, happened. And they’re not stopping,” Huerta said. “You know, you’re like, just blow it off, and the next incident comes and then the next one, and then it’s kind of like, what is going on here?”
Huerta said she had been considering removing her children, ages nine and seven, from Legacy before speaking with the 8 News Now Investigators on Wednesday.
“Just because of everything that’s going on,” Huerta said. “There’s a lot going on. It’s not good.”
Manning, who faces three counts of child abuse, is scheduled to be arraigned in North Las Vegas Justice Court on Oct. 23, 2023.