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Family of South Carolina fifth-grader killed in school fight seeks answers; father to speak out

The father of Raniya Wright, the South Carolina girl who died after a classroom fight, says he's heard almost nothing from the school or investigators.

COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. — The father of a South Carolina girl who died after a fight in a classroom says he's heard almost nothing from officials about his daughter's death, one week after the fight that ultimately took her life. 

Jermaine Van Dyke, the father of 10-year-old Raniya Wright, spoke alongside his reporters.

"I'm here today looking for justice for my daughter," Van Dyke said. "I want to find out what happened, how it happened, and who was involved." 

Related: SC girl injured in classroom fight dies from her injuries, officials confirm

The fight broke out on March 25 in a classroom at Forest Hills Elementary School in Walterboro. The Colleton County School District said teachers ended the fight as quickly as possible, and called for EMS. Both of the students involved were fifth-graders. 

RELATED: Investigation into death of girl in SC classroom 'could take weeks'

The report says Wright made it to the nurse's station. When deputies arrived, the girl was unconscious but breathing.  She was  taken to a local hospital for treatment, then airlifted to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Around mid-morning Wednesday, she passed away.  

The dad says he learned about Raniya's injury from her maternal grandmother, and raced to the hospital. By the time he got there, however, she'd already been taken to Charleston for further treatment. 

Credit: Pizarro Law Firm
Raniya Wright

But Van Dyke's attorneys say they've only heard from a school district lawyer, who couldn't provide much details. According to them, the sheriff's office and the solicitor's office have not reached out to the dad. 

Attorney Mark Peper said they've spoken with the teacher in the classroom, and parents of some of the other schoolchildren. While he's hesitant to label it bullying, he said there was a "patter of behavior" and that the school was on notice that there'd been altercations in this particular classroom.

Raniya's mother, Ashley Wright, has hired separate attorneys from Van Dyke. But the father's attorneys say both teams are working together. 

"Ms. Wright's council has been in constant communication," Peper said. "We've formed a unified front."

Investigators have said it could take weeks to make a determination in the case, including if charges are necessary.  One student was suspended by the district. 

Related: SC community creates makeshift memorial to honor 10-year-old who died in school fight

Her father's attorneys say the dad right now is focused on his daughter's funeral, which will take place Wednesday. They're also calling on the community to come together and heal. 

Credit: Pizarro Law Firm
10-year-old Raniya Wright died from injuries suffered during a fight at her elementary school.

Related: Community angry with lack of answers in death of 5th grader at SC school

In a separate statement released on behalf of Raniya Wright's mother, attorneys Margie Pizarro and Myesha Brown said the family joins the community in calling for transparency and accountability from the school district.

"In Raniya's name, the family is demanding change," the statement reads. "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."

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