A former Texas high school student has been awarded $90,000 in a lawsuit she and her parents filed after she was pressured to write the Pledge of Allegiance by a high school social studies teacher, and harassed for refusing to do so.
Mari Oliver refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance throughout her years at Klein Oak High School in Spring, Texas. Oliver, who is now an adult, says teachers and school administrators harassed her repeatedly over the Pledge, to the point where her mother pulled her out of the school for a semester.
Sociology teacher Benji Arnold, who just celebrated 50 years with the school, went a step further by assigning his class to write out the Pledge of Allegiance, and warned if they did not complete the assignment, they would receive a zero grade.
Oliver did not want to write the Pledge, she says, because she objects to the phrase “under God” and does not believe the United States provides “liberty and justice for all.”
Arnold also allegedly compared people who refuse to say or write the Pledge of Allegiance to “Soviet communists, members of the Islamic faith seeking to impose Sharia law, and those who condone pedophilia.”
The Texas Association of School Boards awarded Oliver $90,000 on Arnold’s behalf, but did not terminate him. He is still working as a social studies teacher at Klein Oak, but was warned to be mindful of students’ rights and be politically neutral in class.