District Responds to Student Allegiance Pledge

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – A South Carolina school district said a ninth grader walking in a hallway was stopped during a moment of silence and not the pledge of allegiance, as the student had said in a lawsuit filed last month.

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

An attorney for Lexington School District 1 said videos from the hallway show the teacher tapped Barnwell’s shoulder to get her attention, but didn’t push it.

It also shows that the confrontation didn’t take place until the end of the Pledge of Allegiance – which state law says students can refuse to recite if they don’t disturb – and the beginning of a moment of silence.

Barnwell did not remain silent, arguing with the teacher until he left, the district said.

“There would be no ban on the school requiring students to stop whatever they are doing, including walking down the aisle, and remain silent during the quiet time,” wrote school district attorney David Lyon.

Barnwell told reporters this month she was humiliated and feared she was in trouble.

“I was completely and utterly disrespected,” the 15-year-old said. “No one apologized, no one acknowledged my pain.”

The district said 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 reviewed all footage of the hallway, not just the clip released by the student’s parents. All the videos were also shown to the family’s lawyer and parents.

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

Together with the teacher, the teenager’s family sued the principal, school district and state education officials, saying they violated the student’s civil rights and her First Amendment rights to both free speech and non-public speech. speak at all.

In a statement, Lexington School District 1 said both its employees and Barnwell are receiving “extremely hateful communications.”

“District leaders strongly condemn this inappropriate behavior. We care about all of our students and employees and regret that those affected by this situation have been subjected to cruel messages,” the district officials wrote.

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