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CCSD: Ashley River Creative Arts student found in water on road to full recovery

Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary (Bill Burr/WCIV)

Charleston County's School District says the Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary School student hospitalized Tuesday after being pulled from a retention pond is on the road to making a full recovery.

Rescue crews were called to the school just after 11 a.m. Tuesday after reports to 9-1-1 of a child found in the water.

According to a statement released by CCSD officials Thursday, staff supervising recess on the playground at Ashley River Creative Arts Tuesday discovered the student in the pond.

A school staff member pulled the child from the pond, and immediately began administering CPR. The school's nurse and a Charleston Police Department officer also gave CPR until EMS arrived to transport the student to a local hospital, district officials say.

“We are proud of the school staff who worked quickly and extremely well with law enforcement and emergency responders," district officials said.

The pond the student was pulled from is on school property, and is surrounded by a nearly 6-foot-tall fence, according to the school district.

The district says it is now Investigating how the student was able to get on the other side of the fence, which officials say was locked at the time, having found out about it in some case on social media.

As for the pond being on school property, CCSD said Thursday the pond is there to regulate storm water runoff. The CCSD says there are approximately 50 retention ponds on school district property throughout the county.

“Management of runoff provides for reduction of erosion and flooding, and collection of contaminants from pavement, all of which are benefits to the environment,” the district said in its statement.

On Tuesday, some parents expressed to ABC News 4 displeasure with the time they felt it took to be notified of the incident by the school district.

In its statement Thursday, CCSD says school officials alerted Ashley River Creative Arts parents about the accident with an automated phone call at 11:55 a.m. A follow-up alert was sent to all parents via email and printed letters at the end of the school day.

CCSD says Principal Catherine Middleton also personally called the parents of every student on the playground at the time of the accident.

"We are extremely thankful for the leadership of Principal (Catherine) Middleton, and the support her staff provided," the district said.

CCSD says the no criminal investigation of the incident is being conducted by Charleston Police, but an internal investigation is under way.

CCSD officials say they will not be identifying the student found in the pond out of respect for the family's privacy and in compliance with federal law.

“We hope that everyone in the school community will continue to keep the student and the student's family in your thoughts and prayers," the district said. "We also ask that you continue to respect their privacy, and allow the members of the Ashley River Creative Arts community a chance to support one another privately as well.”

The CCSD crisis team, Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy, and the Charleston County mobile crisis team were sent to the school immediately following the event, and will continue to receive support as requested, according to the school district.

Below is a copy of the school district's statement in full.

OFFICIAL STATEMENT
May 18, 2017
Charleston County School District's Response
Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary School Incident
We thank everyone for their patience and understanding when it comes to the release of information about the incident at Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary School (ARCAES) on Tuesday.
We ask everyone to keep in mind it is our responsibility to respect the privacy and wishes of the family affected by the incident. We are so thankful to report the child is on the road to making a full recovery. The school and the District will continue to do everything we can to support the family going forward.
Regarding the incident itself, we can report the student was discovered in the retention pond by staff who were supervising recess on the playground at the time. We are actively investigating how the student was able to get on the other side of the locked fence, which is nearly six feet high. The Charleston Police Department did an initial investigation on site that day; however, it is not a criminal matter and the school district is fully in charge of the investigation.
A school staff member who discovered the child, pulled the child from the pond, and immediately initiated CPR. The school nurse took over when she arrived on the scene. A responding Charleston Police Department officer was the last individual to provide CPR before EMS responders transported the child to the hospital.
An automated call from the school was sent out to all ARCAES parents at 11:55 a.m. on Tuesday, and a letter to all ARCAES parents was sent home via email and letter form, following dismissal at 3:30 p.m. Principal Cathie Middleton also called the parents of every student that was on the playground at the time of the incident during the course of the school day, and met with school staff following the completion of dismissal.
Support from the CCSD crisis team, Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy, and Charleston County mobile crisis team was provided immediately following the event. ARCAES staff, students and families will continue to receive support as requested.
We will not identify the student in any detail, out of respect for the family and in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
A question we have been asked is why there is a retention pond on the ARCHES campus. The reason there is a retention pond is there is a regulatory requirement to manage storm water runoff. Management of runoff provides for reduction of erosion and flooding, and collection of contaminants from pavement, all of which are benefits to the environment. There are approximately 50 retention ponds on school sites throughout the district.
We are proud of the school staff who worked quickly and extremely well with law enforcement and emergency responders. We are extremely thankful for the leadership of Principal Middleton, and the support her staff provided. Principal Middleton also extends her thanks to the community, and to school and district staff who were involved in the response to this incident.
We hope that everyone in the school community will continue to keep the student and the student's family in your thoughts and prayers. We also ask that you continue to respect their privacy, and allow the members of the Ashley River Creative Arts community a chance to support one another privately as well.

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