Family of girl killed in school fight seeks answers

elementary school
RaNiya Wright is pictured with her mother, Ashley, on a GoFundMe page for the 10-year-old’s funeral costs.

BY NOAH FEIT
THE STATE/TNS

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The family of the 10-year-old girl who was killed after a fight in her South Carolina elementary school is looking for information from investigators, their attorneys say.

Fifth-grader RaNiya Wright was airlifted to a hospital March 25 after a fight with another student in a Forest Hills Elementary School classroom, according to school officials. She died two days later at a hospital in Charleston, The State reported.

Attorneys representing both RaNiya’s mother and father say their clients want information from the school and law enforcement investigators.

Transparency urged

The Pizarro Law Firm is representing Ashley Wright, the girl’s mother, according to a Facebook post.

It released a statement saying it wants to know what happened during the deadly confrontation, whether there was a teacher or adult supervision in the class, and what was done to break up the fight, WCIV reported.

“The family joins the community in its calls for transparency and accountability from the school district and all other individuals involved,” the law firm said, according to the TV station.

Distraught dad

RaNiya’s father, Jermaine Van Dyke, is “distraught and frustrated,” over the lack of information provided by investigators, according to a statement from his attorney, David Aylor Law Offices.

“To date, Jermaine Van Dyke has been provided no pertinent information from school officials or local law enforcement regarding the death of his daughter while in the custody and care of the school district,” Aylor said in a news release.

“Rightfully so, he is distraught and frustrated by their lack of communication and refusal to allow him access to any videos or investigative findings related to this matter.”

“Mr. Van Dyke … vows to fight for the answers his family and this community deserves,” Aylor said.

Van Dyke will take his frustrations to the community Monday morning, when he holds a news conference in front of his daughter’s elementary school, according to Aylor.

Autopsy on Friday

Despite the family’s frustrations, answers and information might not be coming soon.

“We do not have a timetable for the conclusion of this investigation. We expect some aspects to take several weeks,” Colleton County Sheriff R.A. Strickland said, the Associated Press reported. “We will do whatever is necessary and take as much time as necessary to ensure a thorough investigation.”

An autopsy was performed on the 10-year-old on Friday, March 29 at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, The State reported.

Those results are not expected to be made available for weeks, Strickland and 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone said.

Student suspended

The school district said the other student in the fight has been suspended. Criminal charges might not be filed, the solicitor said.

“At this time it is premature to assume whether there will be any criminal charges,” Stone said during the news conference.

In addition to information, Wright’s attorney said the family is demanding changes be made.

“Change that addresses the reasons that a child would openly express anxiety about attending school. Change that addresses legitimate fears that a child has while in the school building. Change that addresses bullying and teasing and the collateral damage when those behaviors go unchecked,” the Pizarro Law Firm said, according to WCBD.

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