Report on 5th grader’s death shows school employees acted appropriately in incident, superintendent says

Updated: Apr. 19, 2019 at 4:31 PM EDT
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WALTERBORO, SC (WCSC) - Colleton County School District officials say the findings of an investigation into the death of a 10-year-old student on March 27 shows employees acted appropriately on the day of a scuffle between two students.

Raniya Wright died at MUSC in Charleston, two days after the incident at Forest Hills Elementary School in Walterboro.

Dr. Franklin Foster, the superintendent of the Colleton County School District, spoke to reporters Friday afternoon, hours after investigators released results of an autopsy showing Wright died of natural causes after the rupture of blood vessels in a rare condition known as arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, in her brain.

“We believe this report and the results of the medical examiner’s autopsy can put to rest the rumors, the misinformation, and the speculation that has plagued our community for the past several weeks,” he said. “This report should send two clear messages to our community. The first message is Raniya’s death was not a result of the incident in the classroom on March 25. And that district employees acted appropriately to intervene with the classroom disruption and her medical emergency.”

Foster said the district's safety procedures were followed and that school officials did everything they could to help Wright during her medical emergency.

“Our people stepped in several times when the two girls were not getting along throughout the day, teachers had warned both of them about their behavior,” he said.

He criticized the media’s use of terminology in describing the incident.

“The news media have portrayed the incident as a fight. This incorrectly characterizes the altercation, according to the sheriff’s report,” he said. “It was a brief physical scuffle with pushing and shoving and slapping that did not result in significant injuries.”

However, it was a post on the school district’s Facebook page, which was shut down shortly after Wright passed away, which read in part, “On March 25 a fifth-grade Forest Hills Elementary School student suffered injuries after a fight occurred in her classroom.”

Franklin also denied rumors the substitute teacher was not in the classroom, but said the sheriff’s report confirms the substitute teacher was in the room and took action when the incident occurred. He also said the report concluded the incident was not the result of bullying.

The other student has been placed in “an alternative learning setting” and will not return to the school for the remainder of the semester, he said.

Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone told reporters Friday morning no criminal charges would be filed in the case.

But shortly after that announcement, Wright’s mother, Ashley, and her attorney offered a different side of the story, vowing this is not where the story ends.

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