South Carolina School District Responds to Student’s Pledge of Allegiance Lawsuit

A South Carolina school district said a ninth grader walking down a hallway was stopped for a minute’s silence and not for the oath of allegiance, as the student said in a lawsuit filed last month.

Marissa Barnwell said she was pushed against a wall by a River Bluff High School teacher when she failed to stop to recite the promise on her way to class in November, according to her family’s lawsuit.

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

It also shows that the confrontation took place only after the end of the pledge of allegiance – which state law states students can refuse to recite if they do not disturb – and the beginning of a minute’s silence.

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

“There would be no prohibition on the school requiring students to stop whatever they are doing, including walking down the hall, and remain silent during the moment of silence,” wrote the school’s district attorney David Lyon.

Barnwell told reporters this month she was humiliated and worried she was getting into trouble.

“I was treated absolutely and absolutely disrespectfully,” said the 15-year-old. “Nobody apologized, nobody acknowledged my injury.”

The district said while the principal discussed the incident with her, a full investigation found that neither she nor the teacher should face disciplinary action.

The district said it reviewed all footage from the hallway, not just the clip released by the student’s parents.

All the videos were also shown to the family lawyer and the parents.

The police also conducted their own investigations and did not press charges.

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

In a statement, Lexington School District 1 said both its staff and Barnwell receive “extremely hateful communications.”

“District leaders strongly condemn this inappropriate behavior. We care about all of our students and staff and regret that those involved in this situation have been the target of cruel messages,” county officials wrote. South Carolina School District Responds to Student’s Pledge of Allegiance Lawsuit


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