More than a week after 10-year-old RaNiya Wright died from injuries she suffered during a school fight, many pressing questions lingered. With the fifth grader’s funeral set for Wednesday, her family said they have yet to get answers about what exactly happened to the fifth-grader.
“I’m here today looking for justice for my daughter,” RaNiya’s father, Jermaine Van Dyke, said at a news conference Monday, according to USA Today. “I want just to find out what happened, how it happened, and who was involved.”
At the news conference, Mark Pepper, a lawyer for Van Dyke said that for years there had been “altercations occurring on a regular basis between individuals in this specific classroom.” According to the New York Times, last year Forest Hills Elementary school had about 50 student behavior incidents that led to out-of-school suspensions.
Wright was involved in a classroom fistfight with another student at Forest Hills Elementary School in Walterboro, South Carolina, on March 25. Following the fight, Wright collapsed and had to be airlifted to the Medical University of South Carolina where she died two days later. An autopsy was performed on Friday. Wright’s family on Monday surpassed $50,000 on a GoFundMe account, exceeding its original goal by nearly $10,000.
The nation was gripped by the news that a girl died so young after what could have been preventable violence. Wright’s family speculated that bullying played a role in her untimely death, but the police have not confirmed that information. School officials said the student involved — only described as being a girl — was suspended until the investigation was complete. According to CNN, the police have classified the incident as a simple assault, but have yet to press any criminal charges.
Wright’s family released a statement on Friday through their attorneys where they called the fifth grader a “wonderful student, who loved her family, friends and the community.” The statement also calls for transparency and change within the seemingly troubled school district.
“Change that addresses the reasons that a child would openly express anxiety about attending school,” the statement read. “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.”
School officials have been tight-lipped about what happened in that classroom on March 25., but Sean Gruber, a spokesman for the school district released a statement claiming that they were cooperating with the investigation.
“The district is cooperating fully with law enforcement as this matter is investigated,” Gruber said. “No further information is available now regarding the status of the investigation, but additional information will be provided as it becomes available.”
Margie A. Pizarro, an attorney for Wright’s mother, Ashley, said she would be requesting an investigative file and “pertinent information” from the Colleton County Sheriff’s Department and the Colleton County School District. Pizarro also announced they would be consulting with the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office to “learn the results of its inquiry into this matter.”
Despite the frustration and confusion that has engulfed the community, on Wednesday at noon at the Saints Center Ministries in Walterboro, Wright’s family said they were choosing to celebrate the life of a child her grandfather remembers as a “good girl.”
“My granddaughter, she was a good girl. She was an usher in the church,” Ernie Wright told CNN at a vigil on Thursday. “As far as violence or anything like that, she never would do that.”