Richland One Sued Again: Middle School Student Attacked At School, Lawsuit Says

The school district has been sued 11 times in the last year…

The mother of a Columbia, South Carolina student is suing Richland County District One after her daughter was attacked at school — and district officials ignored the problem, according to a lawsuit filed this week.

The personal injury lawsuit is one of 11 suits filed against the scandal-scarred Richland One school district in the last year.

According to the latest lawsuit filed this week, a student at Heyward Gibbes Middle School in Columbia, South Carolina was attending class on April 28, 2019 when she was attacked by another student.

According to the lawsuit, Richland One officials knew that this other student “had a tendency to become violent and attempt to hurt other students.”

This student had previously attacked the girl before and officials ignored that and placed the two students next to each other in class, the lawsuit said.

As a result, the girl was stabbed by the student multiple times with a pencil, the lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit, the girl’s injuries required medical treatment and resulted in “permanent disability and loss of enjoyment of life,” among other things, the lawsuit said.


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The girl’s mother, represented by Columbia attorneys Joseph O. Thickens and J. Eric Cavanaugh, is suing the school district for gross negligence.

The lawsuit claims that Richland One officials “failed to put students health and safety above all other concerns” and created “unreasonable dangerous conditions” for students.

Richland One Problems

Richland One — the ninth largest school district in South Carolina educating the greater Columbia area — has been sued 11 times in the last year.

During that time, Greenville County School District — the state’s largest school district with three times the amount of students and three times the amount of teachers — was only sued five times during that period.

Richland Two School District, which has 6,000 more students than Richland One and also educates the greater Columbia area — was only sued once during that time period.



Several of the lawsuits against Richland One have been launched by parents of children hurt at school who claim negligence.

In September, a student who was stabbed multiple times at A.C. Flora High School sued Richland One.

In October, a Columbia, SC mother who said her 5-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted on a school bus multiple times sued Richland One.

Also in October, another Columbia SC mother who said her daughter with special needs was assaulted and harassed at school sued Richland One.

On top of all the lawsuits facing the district, Richland One School Board has been accused of lavish spending while test scores are dropping.

Richland One ranks in the top 6 school districts in the state for spending per pupil. In the 2020-2021 school year, it spent $15,643 per pupil which is significantly higher than the state’s average at $9,497.

Richland One’s average administrator salary is the eighth highest school district in the state at $93.675 and more than the state’s average at $87,353.

Meanwhile, Richland One’s academics are not staking up. Richland One’s third grade ELA scores, eighth grade math scores, college ready percentage, and career ready percentage are the lowest among the state’s ten largest districts and South Carolina’s average.

Also, while Richland One’s graduation rates have improved, both are below other large Midlands school districts, and the second worst among large school districts in South Carolina.

FITSNews will continue to keep a close eye on Richland One. Stay tuned…

Mandy Matney



Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your tips to [email protected].



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