District Responds to Student Pledge of Allegiance Lawsuit

COLOMBIA, South Carolina — A South Carolina school district says a ninth-grader walking down a hallway was arrested for a moment of silence and not the oath of allegiance, as the student claimed in a lawsuit filed last month. last.

Marissa Barnwell said she was pushed against the wall by a teacher at River Bluff High School when she didn’t stop to recite the pledge on her way to class in November, according to the lawsuit. his family.

A lawyer for School District 1 in Lexington said videos from the hallway show the teacher touching Barnwell’s shoulder to get her attention but did not push her.

It also shows that the confrontation only took place after the end of the Pledge of Allegiance – which state law says students can refuse to recite if they are not disruptive – and the start of a moment of silence.

Barnwell was not silent, arguing with the teacher until she walked away, the district said.

“There would be no prohibition on the school forcing students to stop doing what they are doing, including walking in the hallway, and to remain silent during the moment of silence,” the prosecutor wrote. of the school, David Lyon.

Barnwell told reporters this month that she had been humiliated and feared getting into trouble.

“I was completely and utterly disrespected,” the 15-year-old said. “Nobody apologized, nobody acknowledged my hurt.”

The district said that although the principal discussed the incident with her, a thorough investigation determined that neither she nor the teacher should be disciplined.

The district said it reviewed all of the hallway footage and not just the clip posted by the student’s parents. The family attorney and the parents have also seen all the videos.

The police also carried out their own investigation and did not press charges.

Along with the teacher, the teen’s family is suing the principal, school district, and state education officials, claiming they violated the student’s civil rights and First Amendment rights to freedom of speech or not to speak at all.

In a statement, Lexington School District 1 said its employees and Barnwell were receiving “extremely hateful communication.”

“The district leaders strongly condemn this inappropriate behavior. We care for all of our students and employees and regret that those involved in this situation have been the target of cruel messages,” district officials wrote.

ABC News

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