RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — A fight between two Independence Middle School students in February 2023 was possibly the result of bullying and payment by other students, according to chat messages among five Independence Middle School students.

The incident has caused concern at the school, according to a concerned citizen who provided the the chat to media.

Raleigh County Schools Pupil Services Director Eric Dillon said Independence Middle School administrators did not know of the chats prior to the reported fight.

Chats among the students seem to show the fight happened on Thursday, February 9, 2023, after several in the group pressured one student to attack another student. In a message, the first student texted, “I wanna do it but we cant move {SIC}.”

A second student replied, “ u gonna let not moving get in the way?” and “if you back out I’ll never forgive you.”

A little over an hour later, according to messages obtained by 59News, the first student was still being pressured by the group to attack the other student.

The student also demanded payment if she fought the other student.

She texted, ”By the way, to all the ones who said they would give me $20, I better get it.
“That is at least three of y’all.”

She also texted to one of the students, “You owe me $20 on Wednesday.”

Later that afternoon, the students sent messages during school hours which suggest the fight had taken place.

“There was a big hand print on her eye,” texted one student.

The student in the fight also texted, “I wanted to fight her deep down. All I knew was that if I did, I could not lose, and I did not lose.”

The following morning, February 10, 2023, a student in the group texted, “Don’t be sorry about the cafeteria. I’m pretty sure we’re getting assigned seats, but a fight is better than assigned seats” and, “She got you, good. Them marks are bad…How’s your stomach and your mom?”

Dillon reviewed the texts on Monday, March 6, 2023, after 59News had provided them to Raleigh Schools Superintendent David Price.

Dillon said the school district is challenged with students who use social media like Snapchat to bully other students. He said school iPads may be monitored by district officials, but students often send messages similar to those in the chat by using their personal cell phones.

Dillon said Independence Middle School administrators learned of the chat messages after the Feb. 9 fight had occurred and that parents of all students were likely notified.

“To the best of my knowledge, the parents were communicated with by the parents of Independence Middle School,” Dillon said. “That’s the expectation for Independence Middle School, and that’s the expectation for all of our schools, that any time we have a situation that involves a student, we want to communicate with that student and communicate with their parents.”

Dillon said he cannot comment on specific instances of student discipline, but it is a violation of school district policy to pay other students to fight.