South Carolina school district disputes student’s claims in Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit
The South Carolina school district involved in a legal battle with a student who says she was accosted for not saying the Pledge of Allegiance has contradicted the student’s claims.
Ninth-grade student Marissa Barnwell says she was pushed by a River Bluff High School teacher when she didn’t stop to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Barnwell says she was walking quietly in a hallway when the teacher allegedly yelled at her.
“I was completely and utterly disrespected,” the 15-year-old said. “No one has apologized, no one has acknowledged my hurt.”
An attorney representing Lexington School District 1 says that surveillance video shows the teacher touching Barnwell’s shoulder, but not pushing her.
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The video also reportedly shows that the confrontation began during the moment of silence, after the pledge was said. State law says that students can opt out of the pledge if they are not being disruptive.
“There would be no prohibition on the school requiring students to stop doing whatever they are doing, including walking down the hall, and to remain silent during the moment of silence,” school district attorney David Lyon wrote.
The school district says it reviewed all the footage from the hallway during its investigation. They concluded that neither the teacher involved nor Barnwell should be disciplined.
Local police also conducted their own investigation and did not file charges.
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The teen’s family is suing the teacher, the principal, the school district and state education officials, alleging they infringed upon her civil rights to both free speech or not to speak at all.
The school district also says that both district employees and Barnwell are receiving “extremely hateful communication” during this time.
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“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 said.
The G3 Box News contributed to this report.