Parents of 9th grader sue after she was physically disciplined over Pledge of Allegiance at school

The parents of a ninth grade student at River Bluff High School in South Carolina are suing a teacher, the school principal, the school district and state education officials after a teacher physically disciplined their daughter for walking to class instead of stopping to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

The fifteen year old student, Melissa Barnwell, claims she was walking to class when the school-wide announcement system began the daily recital of the Pledge of Allegiance. Barnwell says she decided to keep walking quietly to class instead of stopping to say the pledge when a teacher stopped her and ultimately pushed her against a wall in anger over her decision not to say the pledge or stop walking for the moment of silence that follows it every day.

Barnwell says she was sent to the principal, who did not seem bothered that the teacher had physically touched her, and has not apologized to her over the incident. “I was completely and utterly disrespected. No one has apologized, no one has acknowledged my hurt. … The fact that the school is defending that kind of behavior is unimaginable,” said Barnwell at a press conference this week. 

A state law enacted in the early 1990s requires all public schools in the state to take time every day to say the Pledge of Allegiance, but also includes a clause prohibiting schools from disciplining anyone who does not choose to participate. 

Video footage of the incident was released by Barnwell’s parents, but the school has not responded to the lawsuit as yet. 




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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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