Shocking footage has revealed the moment a South Carolina student was “slammed into a wall” and yelled at by her teacher for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
The parents of 15-year-old Marissa Barnwell launched a lawsuit following the episode, which broke out on the girl’s ninth-grade birthday last November.
The incident occurred at River Bluff High School in Lexington, where honor roll student Barnwell claims she was accosted while walking quietly to class.
She says her teacher, named Nicole Livingstone, was furious after seeing that the 15-year-old hadn’t sat still when the promise blared over the campus intercom system.
“I was in disbelief,” Barnwell said at a news conference Thursday, recalling telling the teacher, “Get your hands off me.”
Marissa Barnwell, 15, claims she was physically accosted on her birthday when a teacher took offense that she did not recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Shocking footage has revealed the moment teacher Nicole Livingstone approached the student in the hallway.
Surveillance video of the bullied girl shows her walking past the teacher on her way to class. Barnwell says that he initially believed Livingston was talking to someone else.
As other students and faculty continue walking, Livingston begins to follow Barnwell down the hall, before “grabbing her, shoving her against the wall, and berating her” for not paying attention to the Pledge of Allegiance.
“She pushes me against a wall, then snatches my ID and says she’s going to report me to the office,” Barnwell explained.
“I’m confused and like ‘get your hands off me, get your hands off me,’ you can hear me say that on the video.” I was incredulous, I never expected something like this to happen to me.
Marissa’s parents have now launched a lawsuit, alleging that the special education teacher violated their “constitutional rights,” according to the federal complaint.
They are demanding a jury trial and an unspecified amount in damages, bringing the lawsuit against the River Bluff High School teacher, the principal of Lexington School District 1, as well as the South Carolina Department of Education.
They allege the teacher violated the First Amendment and the student’s civil rights because she “chose to continue walking to her class and refrain” from reciting the pledge.
“I was totally and utterly disrespected,” Barnwell said.
“I had never seen this lady a day in my life, so when she came up to me so angry and so upset, I didn’t know how to react.
“He came up to me, grabbed me and pushed me against the wall. He just wasn’t ready for it, and no student should have to go through such dramatic things.’
Special education teacher Nicole Livingston, pictured, is facing a lawsuit after she allegedly pushed the girl against a wall and berated her.
She was sent to the principal’s office after the incident, an ordeal that she said was humiliating as she didn’t understand why she was in trouble.
Barnwell also claims that after she complained to her director about the incident, he told her: ‘Well, shouldn’t you be proud of your country?’
“No one has apologized, no one has acknowledged my pain,” he continued. “The fact that the school is defending that kind of behavior is unimaginable.”
Lexington School District One could not be reached for comment when contacted by DailyMail.com.
However, Livingstone remains on the school district’s list of teachers on its website, suggesting she has not been fired following the November incident.
The student’s school recites the Pledge of Allegiance at the same time every day, due to a law passed more than 30 years ago by the South Carolina legislature that requires them to do so.
But their silent protest is also protected by the same law, which prohibits punishing students who refuse to recite the pledge as long as they don’t disturb.
“What happened to me should never happen to any other student in the United States or in South Carolina, period,” he added.
I was totally and utterly disrespected, and my constitutional right to protest and not to say the oath of allegiance was not respected.
“That’s my First Amendment right.”
According to a lawsuit filed last month, school policy states that students do not have to stand still for the Pledge of Allegiance.
But Marissa’s parents said that when they tried to raise the issue with the school principal, an assistant principal asked in surprise, ‘Are you sure you didn’t curse her to provoke her into doing this? Or are you sure you didn’t say anything about her or hit her first?
The Barnwells later tried to raise their concerns at a school board meeting, but when they got no response, they hired a lawyer.
‘There is no reason why African-American or black children should feel that they are not treated in the same way. It’s 2023 and it’s time for change,” said Fynale Barnwell, Marissa’s mother.
His father, Shavell Barnwell, added: “I just can’t believe this has happened.
‘Why a teacher, you can see it on the video, why would the teacher point at my daughter when you could clearly see other students walking on this video?’
The family’s attorney, Tyler Bailey, right, argued that all students should be able to exercise their constitutional right to reject the Pledge of Allegiance.
The incident occurred on November 29 at River Bluff High School in Lexington.
The family’s attorney, Tyler Bailey, added during the statement that the case cuts to the core of civil rights in the United States.
“What’s beautiful about America is that we have freedoms,” he said.
‘Students in our schools should feel safe, they should not feel threatened for exercising their constitutional rights.
“No one has sent Barnwell’s anything in writing saying we apologize for what happened, or that your daughter has constitutional rights that can be exercised and should not be violated.”
Livingston was not arrested or charged with any crime by the City of Lexington Police Department, according to WLTX.
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Office and the Lexington Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted by DailyMail.com.