WALTERBORO, S.C. — Authorities spoke privately Thursday to school board members for two hours about what happened when a fifth grader died from injuries suffered in a fight at a South Carolina elementary school.
But the Colleton County School Board gave out no additional information about the death of Raniya Wright after the meeting.
Wright was knocked unconscious Monday at Forest Hills Elementary School in Walterboro during a fight with another fifth grader. She died in the hospital two days later.
The other student involved in the fight has been suspended. The student's name, sex and age have not been released. No charges have been filed.
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Colleton County deputies met with the school board behind closed doors. When the board emerged, Chairman Tim Mabry read a brief statement saying student privacy laws and the ongoing criminal investigation meant they could not release additional information.
"We understand this is an emotional and difficult time for our community," Mabry said.
Superintendent Franklin Foster then read a brief statement promising to review the findings of the investigation and make any changes needed.
People who came to the school board meeting were unhappy with the lack of answers.
"We wait outside for two hours and y'all just going to adjourn the meeting and leave?" one yelled as the board members walked out.
Parents at the school board meeting said teachers are discouraged from breaking up school fights because they worry they could get sued if they hurt a student.
“They say there's a system put in place where they can't break up fights but that should be high school,” said Shawnya Sanders, a parent. “You have little kids.”
North Carolina attorney Ken Harris told Channel 9 it’s hard for teachers to know how to handle these situations.
"I'm not aware of any regulation that says a teacher must, if the fight escalates to a certain point, that a teacher must step in. The consistent problem I see is that teachers are at a loss with what they are supposed to do," Harris said.
What complicates matters, even more, is the teachers' own safety can be at risk.
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School officials who called 911 initially said the girl collapsed Monday after the fight and was unconscious but breathing in the nurse's office, according to a Colleton County Sheriff's Office incident report.
The report and statements from deputies and school officials have not detailed how the girl was injured or what the fight was about. The attack is listed on the report as a simple assault. The report also said no weapons were used.
Raniya died Wednesday at a Charleston hospital. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.
Residents of Walterboro, South Carolina, came together this week to honor a fifth grader who died from injuries she suffered in a fight at her elementary school.
The Post and Courier reports at least 200 people packed into Pinckney Park on Thursday night to pray for 10-year-old Raniya Wright. Wright was knocked unconscious Monday at Forest Hills Elementary School during a fight with another fifth grader and later died.
The circumstances surrounding the fight are unclear. Schools Superintendent Franklin Foster says student privacy laws and the ongoing investigation limit what information can be released. Authorities say more information may be released after Wright's autopsy, which is set for Friday.
The newspaper says Walterboro is a small city where most residents know each other, making Wright's death that much more devastating.
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