State senator releases statement on earlier comments about 5th grader’s death

Updated: Apr. 9, 2019 at 12:41 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC/AP) - The state senator who revealed details about the 5th grader who died two days after what she called a “scuffle” issued a statement about her remarks on her Facebook page Monday.

RaNiya Wright, 10, died at MUSC in Charleston, two days after a fight at her Walterboro...
RaNiya Wright, 10, died at MUSC in Charleston, two days after a fight at her Walterboro elementary school. (Source: Ash Wright)

Sen. Margie Bright Matthews said it was never her intention to “relate specifics on the incident” when she spoke about information she had uncovered after speaking to family members of 10-year-old RaNiya Wright and a substitute teacher who was working at Forest Hills Elementary School on the day of the incident.

Wright and another girl, Matthew said, had been involved in a scuffle and after an assistant principal took both to the school’s office, Wright began complaining of a headache. Bright Matthews said evidence showed Wright was taken “steps away” to the nurse’s station where she became nauseated, vomited and lost consciousness.

An incident report from the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office said EMS responded to the school’s nurse’s station where Wright was unresponsive but breathing. Crews airlifted her to MUSC where she died two days later.

On Monday, the senator addressed the comments she made on the Senate floor on April 2 and said she planned to introduce legislation to limit class size:

"As to the specific facts related to the tragic incident regarding the fifth graders, and ultimate death of young Raniya Wright, it was never my intention to relate specifics on the incident. I was simply sharing that by all accounts, this was not a gang fight. It was an incident between 2 fifth grade girls.

The words, ‘scuffle’ and ‘going back and forth’ were not used or intended to minimize or trivialize the alteration between the girls.

I have known all of the parties and/or members of their families for many years and do not represent any of them.

As a Senator and mom of 4 girls, my heart is certainly filled with grief and I will support this family.

That’s why I will be introducing a bill to reduce the number of students per class in K-6 grades to no more than 14 students per 1 teacher (14:1). This mandate shall apply to all schools that have received ‘Below Average’, ‘Failing’ or ‘Average.’ “ grades from the State Dept. of Education.

It’s why I continue to advocate for mental health counselors in our local school districts to counsel elementary and middle school students on the crises they face during episodes of bullying.

And it’s ultimately why I asked my colleagues to pray for our entire community as we look for answers as to how and why this horrific tragedy occurred. Only then, can we truly work together to ensure that it never happens again."

Bright Matthews’ Facebook post comes on the same day Wright’s mother spoke out about her daughter’s death, saying RaNiya hit her head on a bookshelf.

Ashley Wright told “Good Morning America” she is frustrated by the lack of answers since her 10-year-old daughter’s death two days after the fight.

School officials have released few details, saying the criminal investigation is ongoing. The other fifth grader involved has been suspended.

Two days after Wright’s death, the 14th Circuit Solicitor and the Colleton County Sheriff issued brief statements but neither was able to provide specific details. They said test results taken that morning during Wright’s autopsy would not be complete for several weeks and that it was too early to tell whether any criminal charges would be filed.

“We do not have a timetable for the conclusion of this investigation,” Sheriff R.A. Strickland said.

Solicitor Duffie Stone said that after the results of tests performed during the autopsy are complete and the investigation is finished, they will first share the results with Wright’s family and then with the public.

RaNiya Wright’s mother and father have hired attorneys and are demanding answers from investigators as to what happened that led to their daughter’s death.

Copyright 2019 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.