South Carolina

Did bullying lead to the death of 5th-grade girl in school fight? Here’s what we know

10-year-old girl dies after school fight: here’s what you need to know

Here is what you need to know about RaNiya Wright, the fifth-grade girl who died after being injured in a fight at her elementary school near Charleston, South Carolina.
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Here is what you need to know about RaNiya Wright, the fifth-grade girl who died after being injured in a fight at her elementary school near Charleston, South Carolina.

Two days after 10-year-old RaNiya Wright was so severely injured in a classroom fight she had to be airlifted to a hospital, the fifth-grader died, according to South Carolina school officials.

Forest Hills Elementary School parents gathered at a library in Walterboro, South Carolina, Wednesday evening, where the conversation focused on bullying at the school, WCIV reports.

“The school has yet to notify any of the parents except the ones involved that something happened. We all found out on social media,” Forest Hills parent Paige Garris said, according to WCIV. “People on social media are just saying the little girl had been bullied, the mom had been to the school and nothing had been done.”

A candlelight vigil in RaNiya’s memory has been scheduled for Thursday night. It will be held at 6 p.m. in Pinckney Park, WCSC reported. A second candlelight vigil will be held Friday at 7:45 p.m. at Joseph Rainey Park, according to WCIV.

A makeshift memorial of “teddy bears, balloons and flowers” can be found near the school’s marquee, The State reported.

A statement from the Colleton County School District says a student has been suspended, but, “because this is an ongoing investigation, we ask that the community understands that the information we can share is limited.”

On Thursday, the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office said “weapons were not involved in this incident,” CNN reported.

The incident report, released by the sheriff’s office after RaNiya’s death, makes no mention of bullying. It did list another fifth-grade student as the suspect in the case listed as a simple assault.

This bullying explainer that defines what bullying is, who is affected by it, and how prevention is possible.

Colleton schools spokesman Sean Gruber “said he could not comment” when asked by the Greenville News if the fight stemmed from bullying.

Some in the community are making that connection on their own, including one woman whose SUV was painted with the message “Save our kids from bullies,” The State reported. The woman who owns the vehicle, Kimberly Uptergrove, told the newspaper her child and RaNiya were playmates.

At the Wednesday evening meeting, Colleton County parent Tiffany Roberts said school “should be a safe haven for them,” according to WCSC.

”If they don’t feel safe at home they should be able to feel safe at school,” Roberts, a parent of a 10-year-old in a Colleton County school, said, WCSC reports.

School spokesman Gruber released a statement on behalf of the superintendent that said, in part, “The District is cooperating fully with law enforcement as this matter is investigated.”

The Colleton County School Board held a special meeting Thursday to discuss what happened, WLTX reports.

The meeting was private, held almost entirely in executive session, and the only comment made when it finished was a prepared statement read by chairman Tim Mabry, WCSC reported.

The statement did not provide any details about what was discussed in the special meeting.

“Forest Hills Elementary and our district as a whole have experienced a great loss. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Wright family. Our district will continue to support them in any way possible as well as offering support to students, community and staff as we deal with this loss,” Mabry said, according to the TV station. “Our board and district have received multiple requests for information. Due to the ongoing investigation and student privacy laws, we cannot share specific details at this time. ... we request that the public remain patient and focused on supporting this community during this time of tragedy.”

When the meeting was adjourned members of the community voiced their displeasure over the lack of information shared after they waited for hours, according to a video tweeted by WHNS.

Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey told McClatchy an autopsy is scheduled for Friday for RaNiya.

A memorial for ReNiya Wright was set up in front of Forest Hills Elementary School in Walterboro, SC where she was injured in a fight and later died at University Medical Center in Charleston.

What happened

Information is limited on what happened at the school Monday. According to the sheriff’s incident report, officers were called to the school and found RaNiya in the nurse’s office unconscious but breathing.

“Fire Rescue was immediately dispatched to the scene,” according to the report, and a school resource officer was already on scene when the ambulance arrived.

The school district said the girl had to be airlifted to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, less than 50 miles away.

“The district crisis response team has been at Forest Hills Elementary School on March 26 to offer support services to students and staff and will continue as needed,” the district said.

RaNiya died at 9:39 a.m. Wednesday, according to the sheriff’s office.

12-year-old Tarrick Walker, with his parents Marcel and Darlene Walker, are making a stand against bullying after he was called the “N-word” on the playground of his Hanford, California school.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.
Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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