Richland County School District Two officials said Tuesday they will make changes so that there is never another incident like the one that took place Monday at Spring Valley High School near Columbia.
Officials in the northeast Columbia district responded a day after cell phone went viral that shows a white male school resource officer (SRO) violently pull a noncompliant black female student of her chair and briefly drag her across the classroom floor.
District superintendent Dr. Debbie Hamm said they are looking in to the altercation. “Working closely with the sheriff’s department, and independent federal and state investigating agencies, we are examining exactly what happened,” Hamm said in a press conference Tuesday.
“There is absolutely no place in this district for what happened (Monday),” Board Chairman James Manning said.
The school district has said the officer involved, Senior Deputy Ben Fields, is not allowed on any of its campuses for now. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department said Fields has been on unpaid leave since Monday. Sheriff Leon Lott said any decision about his future will occur following an internal investigation.
District officials corroborated law enforcement’s version of events, saying the student refused to follow instructions from the teacher, then the administrator the teacher called, before Deputy Fields responded.
Spring Valley Principal Jeff Temoney said he met with students who had been in the math class where the incident occurred. He said what he saw on the video hit him “in the gut.” “I, like many others, am deeply disturbed by the images in the video,” he said.
The FBI and U.S. Justice Department have agreed to investigate the incident at the request of Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.