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Teacher who TRIED TO FORCE STUDENT to write Pledge of Allegiance settles lawsuit for $90,000

By Marina Pitofsky

A teacher who tried to force a student to write the Pledge of Allegiance settled a lawsuit with the former high schooler for $90,000.  

American Atheists, the organization that represented the nonreligious student, confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that the student‚Äôs 12th-grade sociology teacher at Klein Oak High School, located north of Houston, agreed to settle the case. The Texas Association of School Boards paid the settlement to resolve the case. 

“Nonreligious students often face bullying or harassment for expressing their deeply held convictions,” Nick Fish, president of American Atheists, said in the statement. “No one should have to endure the years of harassment, disrespect and bullying our client faced. The fact that this happened in a public school and at the hands of staff who should know better is particularly appalling.”  

The student in the case, identified as Mari Oliver in multiple reports, declined to recite the Pledge of Allegiance throughout her time in high school, objecting to the words ‚Äúunder God.‚Äù She also cited her ‚Äúbelief that the United States does not adequately guarantee ‚Äòliberty and justice for all,‚Äô especially for people of color,‚Äù according to the Tuesday statement.  

American Atheists said the teacher in the case, identified as Benjie Arnold, required Oliver and other students to write out the pledge in 2017, and, after Oliver refused, he told her she would be failed on an assignment. The organization said he also offered to pay students to move abroad if they had criticisms about the United States, but they would have to pay him double if they came back to the country.

According to the lawsuit filed by Oliver, Arnold compared people who refuse to say the pledge “to Soviet communists, members of the Islamic faith seeking to impose Sharia law, and those who condone pedophilia.”  

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