The family of a 15-year-old River Bluff High School student filed a lawsuit against Lexington District One, claiming that a teacher physically assaulted her before class regarding school policy, about the Pledge of Allegiance.
But after viewing a surveillance video from River Bluff High School, law enforcement officials did not bring charges against the teacher the student, Marissa Barnwell, accused.
On Wednesday, March 15, 2023, attorneys for Lexington County School District One filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the Barnwell family related to the situation that occurred at River Bluff High School on Nov. 29, 2022.
Typically, Lexington One does not issue statements about ongoing legal matters. However, district
leaders feel compelled to issue this statement to address the response to media coverage and to clarify
the details related to the situation.
Due to the recent media coverage of this incident, the student and employees involved are receiving
extremely hateful communication. District leaders strongly condemn this inappropriate behavior. We
care for all of our students and employees and regret that those involved in this situation have been
the target of cruel messages.
Commitment to addressing issues and concerns
Lexington One officials strive to demonstrate our commitment to all families that incidents are taken
seriously, investigated fully and addressed appropriately. We believe we have the necessary district
procedures and board policies in place to fulfill this commitment. Unfortunately, there will be times
when a family will not be satisfied with the district’s response, and we regret when that happens and
attempt to resolve issues in a manner satisfactory to all parties involved.
District Policy related to the Pledge of Allegiance
To ensure that Lexington One schools are in compliance with state law, Lexington One Board Policy
IMD requires that schools designate a time for the Pledge of Allegiance each school day while
honoring a person’s right to not participate. The policy further states that the district will not
“penalize him/her for failing to participate.”
School and District Response to the incident on Nov. 29, 2022
The principal learned of the incident right after it occurred at approximately 8:40 a.m. on the
morning of Nov. 29, 2022. The following steps were taken in response:
● An assistant principal began an investigation by reviewing video footage from one camera in
the hallway where the incident occurred.
● The assistant principal met with the parents of the student and informed them that school
administrators were investigating the incident as a personnel matter.
● The district’s Human Resources office was notified and began an investigation.
● The School Resource Officer was notified and a report was filed that afternoon. This is
standard procedure when an incident involves allegations of misconduct that could lead to
● Following district procedure, the employee, an instructional assistant, was placed on
administrative leave and remained on administrative leave until the district concluded the
● During the course of the investigation, additional video footage from another camera position
in the hallway was obtained and reviewed.
● The parents and their attorney came to the school to review all video footage.
● Law enforcement reviewed all video footage and informed the district that no criminal charges
would be filed related to this incident.
Note about release of video from district’s surveillance system
The footage shown in media reports was not released by the district and is not the footage directly
from the district’s surveillance system. The district is generally prohibited by the Family Educational
Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) from releasing video footage of students that are considered part
of a student’s education record.