Watch Marissa Barnwell Video

A South Carolina high school teacher is facing allegations of physically assaulting a student who refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Marissa Barnwell, an honor roll student at River Bluff High School, was walking to class on November 29th when the pledge was being recited on the school intercom. While some students stopped to observe the ceremony, Barnwell continued walking silently to class and refrained from participating in the pledge. Watch Marissa Barnwell Assault Video Below.

According to a federal lawsuit filed by Barnwell’s family, special education teacher Nicole Livingston violated the ninth-grader’s constitutional rights by yelling and demanding that she stop walking, before physically assaulting her by pushing her against the wall and forcefully touching her in an unwanted way without her consent.

Barnwell claims that she wasn’t the only student walking in the hallway who didn’t stop for the pledge, and that she didn’t recognize the teacher who was shouting “stop” and assumed Livingston was talking to someone else.

The student’s parents informed the school’s principal, Jacob Smith, of the incident, but claim that no action was taken against Livingston. The family has filed a federal lawsuit against the Lexington School District One, Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait, the South Carolina Department of Education, Smith, and Livingston.

State law requires the pledge to be recited every day at school, but the code also states that no one should be penalized for failing to participate, as long as non-participation does not disrupt school activities. The student’s lawyer, Tyler Bailey, said that Barnwell regularly does not participate in the pledge and is conscious of the injustices going on in the country.

The Lexington School District One’s chief communications officer, Elizabeth “Libby” D. Roof, stated that they are working on a response to the lawsuit and that it will be filed in the coming weeks. Livingston is still listed on the school’s faculty roster.