School District Responds to Student Pledge of Allegiance Case
A South Carolina school district said a ninth grader was walking down a corridor that was stopped during a moment of silence and not a Pledge of Allegiance, the student said. in a lawsuit submitted last month.
Marissa Barnwell said she was pushed up against a wall by a teacher at River Bluff High School when she didn’t stop to recite the pledge as she walked to class in November, according to her family’s lawsuit.
Videos from the hallway show the teacher touched Barnwell’s shoulder to get her attention but did not nudge her, an attorney from Lexington School District 1 said.
It also shows that the confrontation did not occur until after the Pledge of Allegiance—which state law says students can refuse to recite if they were not disturbed—was over and a moment of silence had begun.
Barnwell was not silent, the district said, arguing with the teacher until she left.
“There will be no prohibition on a school from asking students to stop doing what they are doing, including walking down the hall, and to remain silent during a moment of silence,” David Lyon, the district attorney, wrote.
Barnwell told reporters this month that she had been humiliated and feared she might be in trouble.
“I was completely and utterly disrespectful,” said the 15-year-old. No one apologized and no one admitted to being hurt.”
The district said that while the principal discussed the incident with her, a full investigation determined that neither she nor the teacher should face discipline.
The district said it had reviewed all of the footage from the lobby, not just the clip posted by the student’s parents.
All videos were shown to the family’s lawyer and 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 and state education officials, saying they violated the student’s civil rights and her First Amendment rights to free speech or not to speak at all.
In a statement, Lexington School District 1 said its staff and Barnwell were receiving “extremely hateful communications.”
The leaders of the region strongly condemn this inappropriate behaviour. We care about all of our students and staff and regret that those involved in this situation have been the target of harsh messages,” district officials wrote.