‘Nothing is being done’: Uptick in fights, bullying at Colleton Co. schools

Over the last three years, one parent says her child has experienced assault, been beaten in the head and even been stabbed with a medal shard and a pencil.
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 5:21 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2023 at 11:13 PM EDT
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COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Colleton County School District says there’s been a recent uptick in fights, but one parent claims for the last three years, she has yet to receive an answer as to why her child keeps being a victim.

Brittney Husk of Colleton County has a son with special needs at Colleton County Middle School. Over the last three years, she says he’s experienced assault, been beaten in the head and even been stabbed with a metal shard and a pencil.

“There was no punishment to the other kid,” Husk said. “There was no actions taken. And even when I came into the school and had a meeting, nothing was done after that.”

Husk says she met with the middle school principal and teachers, amongst other administration. She says she even had a long phone call with the district’s former superintendent and kept getting excuses.

“‘Boys will be boys,’” Husk said. “You know, ‘kids fight all the time’... They have hundreds of fights every day and that if they were to report all of them, they would have thousands of reports a day.”

One of the school resource officers who Husk met with told her they have to decide what is serious enough to report.

“It makes me very mad because it’s like they’re choosing that another kid is more important than my son,” Husk said.

Dozens of fight videos are circling around social media claiming to be in Colleton County schools, including six videos posted to six separate Instagram accounts dedicated to this content.

When asking the district about these videos and Husk’s situation, Jessica Williams, the district’s interim superintendent, provided this statement:

The District is dedicated to providing a safe environment for all students. Our staff strives to diligently supervise our students and provide age-appropriate instruction in our schools to encourage our students to engage in respectful behavior toward their classmates. Our staff also continuously educates our students on the consequences of bullying and harassing their classmates – we have zero tolerance for such behavior in our schools and take swift action against the offending students.

Unfortunately, like other schools across the country, sometimes our students do not live up to our expectations. The District is aware of several recent incidents regarding bullying and harassing behavior, and we continue to take steps to address these issues. We cannot go into detail regarding specific consequences based on privacy issues, however, we can assure our parents and community that we take all allegations of such conduct seriously and respond swiftly and appropriately. We also continue to work with our School Resource Officers as we handle these incidents.

All administrators in our schools have open-door policies for both students and parents to report concerns. Likewise, our teachers are always available to work with our students. While we cannot stop all instances of inappropriate conduct, the District can and will continue to address misconduct as it occurs, as well as provide positive encouragement and instruction to our students.

The District is concerned about the recent uptick in fights in our schools. Following is the message sent to all parents on September 15, 2023, regarding the District’s zero-tolerance expectations for fights, including those related to bullying and harassment.

Greetings Colleton County School District Families. This is Interim Superintendent Jessica Williams. The school district administration, in partnership with the Board of Trustees, has made the decision to implement a temporary zero-tolerance response to physical violence in the school setting. This decision was reached in response to a recent increase in physical violence among students. The zero-tolerance response to physical violence will result in the immediate and potentially long-term removal of students from the school environment for fighting and other related disciplinary infractions.

Your anticipated support of this decision is greatly appreciated, as it is the goal of the Colleton County School District to maintain a safe and secure environment for all students, staff, and visitors.

Thank you again and thank you for your support!

We ask for input, assistance and support from our parents and community as we continue to address these worrying incidents. Together we are stronger.

When contacting all school board members, five out of the seven members had voicemail boxes that had not been set up yet. Craig Stivender, who represents District 4, was the only one who answered the phone.

“It’s a major concern for me that our children are safe when they’re in school and fighting should not be acceptable,” Stivender said.

Husk says she went to the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office about her son’s bullying.

“They told me they don’t get involved with school incidents,” Husk said.

When meeting with the administration this school year after the bullying continued, Husk says she asked one of the school resource officers about the stabbing incident from last year.

“They don’t have any record of all the stuff that was happening last year,” Husk said. “That it’s just miraculously disappeared from their system.”

Jason Chapman with the Criminal Investigations Division at the Sheriff’s Office provided the following statement when asked about the stabbing report.

So I researched the names you provided in our report management system (RMS). While there are reports in the system with those names, there are no reports filed on behalf or involving either party in the time frame you indicated. I followed up with a call to the School District office. I was informed, again, while there are reports on file for that student, none match the circumstances that are being relayed to you.

While I “never say never,” I do not believe that an incident of such severity would go undocumented, given the assumption the incident was reported or observed. Especially given the fact that multiple other incidents at various educational establishments were reported during the same time frame(s).

Chapman adds to reach out to the head of all SROs for the sheriff’s office for more context. Since this officer was on duty at the schools, he was unable to return a phone call.

“I want to get this out to the public so they can understand what’s going on,” Husk said. “Not just to my son, but other students. And they need to know that nothing is being done about it.”