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Richland Two: Zero tolerance for what happened at Spring Valley

Debbie Hamm.jpg

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) Richland Two School officials called a news conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss the incident that happened at Spring Valley High School Monday.

School officials called the video showing a school resource officer forcibly removing a female student from her desk as disturbing.

Richland Two Chairman James Manning said the district has zero tolerance for these actions and called it reprehensible.

"This was one of the most upsetting situations in my 40 years here," said District Superintendent Debbie Hamm.

Parents became irate at a Richland Two board meeting Tuesday night.

"You do not touch nobody's child whether they're white OR black in that manner," said a parent whose child attends Spring Valley High.

Several other parents shared their thoughts and concerns at the meeting, saying they are holding the board responsible for finding answers and making sure something like this never happens again.

"You guys, you are responsible for these people," parents continued.

Richland Two Superintendent Debbie Mann responded "We do have a responsibility as if these are our children. I guess what I wanna say is we are fully cooperating with authorities investigating this- we expect it to be investigated thorough."

Officials said that they have asked SLED to handle the investigations and that the sheriff's department requested that the FBI look into the matter as well.

The resource officer, Ben Fields has been asked not to be on any Richland Two property. Fields is not permitted to continue his work as an assistant coach with the Spring Valley football team.

Hamm said the district will strengthen their training efforts to increase safe learning in the district.

Over the past year, Hamm noted they have made it their top priority to increase disciplinary and diversity plans.

Officials repeated that student safety remains a top priority and they have been working on procedures to make sure something like this never takes place again.

Hamm stated that the district has been adamantly working to distinguish between what is a disciplinary situation and what is a criminal situation.

She added that school staff will always look to de-escalate a situation to prevent a physical altercation.

Spring Valley Principal Jeff Temoney met with students who were in the class Tuesday and said they openly talked about what happened in the classroom.

"We will seek to find ways to improve our practices and policies to better provide education to our students," said Temoney.

District officials said that law enforcement will continue to look into what transpired prior to what was recorded and will comment further once the investigation is completed.

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