An altercation between two students and staff members of Kingstree Senior High School has led to a Kingstree Police Dept. and SLED investigation. Chief Robert Ford said the department is investigating an incident where it is alleged that two students were physically assaulted by school administration. On September 13, Kingstree Police Department responded to a call in reference to two disorderly students. According to Ford, the call came after the incident. “By the time we got there everything was over with and done,” said Ford. According to a Kingstree Police Dept. Incident Report, one of the suspects was seen off the campus during school hours. Later that morning the two suspects were walking through the school cafeteria when they ignored requests by Assistant Principal Mack Burgess to accompany him to the office. At that point, Burgess states he called a security guard to assist. According to Burgess, the guard attempted to escort the two suspects to the office but both began to resist. Burgess stated he had to physically restrain the two students and have the security guard place them in handcuffs. Burgess also stated the suspects threatened his life by saying this was not over and they would kill him. Both students were arrested for Disturbing School and spent the night in the Williamsburg County Detention Center. The following day the parents took one child to the local emergency room where he was examined.
According to Burgess’ statements, the altercation was brought on by an incident that occurred on a school bus a week earlier. After having problems with one of the suspects the bus driver returned to the school, asked the suspect to get off and the suspect complied. However, according to Burgess the other suspect then made threats toward the driver.
The students’ mother filed an incident report against Burgess and Michael Kelly for Assault 3rd Degree. On Thursday, September 20, a judge heard the complaint where he granted the mother to sign a summons to appear in court.
Once the summons is served the individuals will be issued a date to appear in court. “He (the younger child) was already on campus and heading for class when someone jumped on his back,” she said. “You can’t make anybody come to school....You call the parents and say, “I see ____ and he’s over there in the projects.”... There is no reason you should put your hands on a child....I need to know what makes Mack Burgess, Coach Kelly, and a security guard that grabbed my son by the arm, what makes them above the law that charges can’t be pressed on them.”
The mother also questions why it took the police five days to release the incident report. Ford said the reason behind the delay was a mix-up in the students’ identities. Ford said the correction was pertinent because one child reportedly had injuries.
He added that instead of making the correction himself, he waited until the following Monday when the reporting officer returned to duty. Ford said he has also requested assistance from SLED. “I have asked them to make sure that - to check everything that we have - that we do - to make sure everything was done that should have been done,” said Ford.
The Williamsburg County School District issued a statement on Tuesday, September 18. It stated “The Williamsburg County School District is cooperating with law enforcement regarding an incident that occurred at Kingstree Senior High School on Thursday, September 13, 2012, that resulted in the arrests of two students. In these circumstances, the District is very limited as to what it can properly say publicly because there is an ongoing investigation. Additionally, the matter involves confidential student and employee information. The Superinten-dent wishes to make it clear that the well-being and safety of all students is a top priority, as is ensuring a positive learning environment in all of the schools of the District. Under no circumstances does the District condone disruptive conduct by students or inappropriate conduct between staff members and students.
If information is presented to District personnel that inappropriate conduct has taken place, the administration immediately investigates and handles each situation as is appropriate, including notification of law enforcement. The District and school administration will address the conduct of those involved based on the results of the investigation by law enforcement and the District.” According to law enforcement officials, the case is pending.