Classes resume at Ridge View High School one day after stabbing with teachers, parents on edge

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Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 8:33 PM EDT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Some in the Ridge View High School community are on edge after a stabbing sent a student to the hospital on Tuesday.

Classes resumed on Wednesday, with additional Richland County Sheriff’s Department deputies on campus.

Two students were injured in the incident at the Richland School District Two school, which is located on Hardscrabble Road.

17-year-old student Tony Abrams is charged with attempted murder in connection with the incident.

WIS spoke with parents and teachers on Wednesday, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the situation and the district’s response.

They say they are stressed and anxious, with their nerves heightened when both Ridge View High and nearby Rice Creek Elementary went on secure status again Wednesday afternoon.

This was due to an incident unrelated to the schools, as deputies chased a suspect who had stolen a car.

A teacher and a parent both said that it felt as though it was “business as usual” at the school Wednesday, and felt their concerns were not fully addressed.

“I’m not even sure how our district expects our children to act,” the parent said. “You’re asking a 15-year-old to feel safe and secure like an adult. But he’s not an adult. He can’t process these things. He’s a child.”

Ridge View High principal Dr. Brenda Mack sent an email to parents on Tuesday night.

She addressed the incident and asked them to speak with their children.

Mack’s letter read in part, “Remind them that Ridge View is full of caring adults ready to help them resolve disagreements. Bringing weapons onto school property is never the answer. However, if your child makes the choice to do so, they will be recommended for expulsion and charged. We must all work together to keep Ridge View High a safe place for all of our students, employees and visitors.”

The Ridge View High parent said that message missed the mark.

She felt that the letter downplayed the stabbing, only stating that “two students were injured in a fight with another student outside of a classroom shortly after 10 a.m.”

“There were no assurances of safety at all,” the parent said. “It was just what we’re going to do if we catch a weapon. No assurances of safety. None.”

The parent wishes that the school had scheduled an e-learning day on Wednesday.

A district spokesperson said that was not a consideration.

“We can’t just sweep it under the rug and ignore it,” the parent said. “It needs to be addressed and it needs to be dealt with. And I feel we’re just trying to sweep this under the rug and move on so we don’t cause a big fuss and we don’t cause a stir. And that’s not the solution. It cannot be the solution.”

The parent took her son out of school on Tuesday after the incident because he did not feel safe.

She did not send him to school on Wednesday, either.

The parent added that she did not feel it was appropriate that the school then sent her an absence email.

“So you’re going to count children absent today who did not feel that it’s safe in school, and to me right there, it let me know how you saw my child,” she said. “You didn’t see him as a person, you saw him as somebody who just attends your school, a butt in the seat.”

She said she felt like she was being punished.

“You just want me to pass along your message and be a good little soldier, send my son to school and just act like none of it happened, and I can’t do that,” the parent said. “If he’s scared, I am supposed to be his protector. And if I don’t feel he’s safe at school, I cannot in good conscience send him to school.”

Additional mental health counselors were present at Ridge View High on Wednesday, and the school community was given a presentation on the importance of the mantra: “See something, say something.”

Richland Two Interim Superintendent Nancy Gregory requested at a board meeting Tuesday night that principals from all five district high schools appear before the board at its next meeting of the Safety and Security Committee.

Gregory wants the district to move forward with a plan for the implementation of metal detectors.

One Ridge View High teacher told WIS that he believes metal detectors could be considered “security theater,” and he would rather see the district look at more “substantive” solutions to address violence.

The teacher suggested a research-based social-emotional learning program that would aim to address why students are misbehaving.

RCSD said a prior dispute between Abrams and the victim led up to the stabbing. Investigators are still working to determine exactly when and where the dispute originated.

Investigators do not believe gang activity is a factor in this incident, according to RCSD.

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