State superintendent outlines state discipline policy amid investigation into deadly fight


It’s been 2 days since the death of Raniya Wright, a Forest Hills Elementary School 5th grader who died following a fight Monday. 

Friday, the state superintendent of education answered a few questions from the media about state policy and procedures. 

Superintendent Molly Spearman did not address the Colleton County situation, but Spearman did provide some insight into what teacher should do to manage the classroom. 

Spearman started the conversation acknowledging the tragedy in Walterboro. 

“This is a tragic accident or incident that has occurred and I’ve learned the best thing is to try and make something good out of a bad circumstance and this is a bad circumstance.”

Superintendent Spearman outlined what’s currently in place in South Carolina schools.  Each school or district is required to have a bullying policy that clarifies how those student complaints should be addressed. 

But teachers are also responsible for managing their own classrooms. State policy identifies 3 levels of discipline or behavior issues, with Level 1 being tardies and Level 3 being things like bullying and fighting.

In the case of a fight, teachers are expected to intervene when they can if not a school resource officer would be the next person in the chain of command. 

Spearman elaborated, “Usually if it’s a mild scuffle, teachers will usually step in between to break that up. But they can usually tell and have a sense of protecting themselves and if it’s something more violent certainly they shouldn’t and they should wait for the sro to get there.”

In order to be a certified teacher in South Carolina, a teacher has to be trained in discipline harassment and bullying. However, there is no state requirement for substitutes. 

The state department of education will be looking into how to improve conditions at schools to prevent these types of fights but that alls depend on if the investigation reveals any shortcoming in state policy. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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