School cut off Valedictorian's microphone during speech - Dallas News |

School cut off Valedictorian's microphone during speech

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A North Texas high school silenced its Valedictorian's microphone during his speech, prompting questions over his free speech rights.

Students attending the Joshua High School graduation say Remington Reimer's microphone was cut off, right when he began to talk about the Constitution.

"He just said, he was talking about getting constitutional rights getting taken away from him," Colin Radford, a Joshua H.S. graduate, said. "And then he said, just yesterday they threatened to turn my microphone off, and then his microphone went off."

Reimer, who was accepted into the Naval Academy, had his speech pre-approved by the school district.

Joshua Independent School District issued a statement:

"Student speakers were told that if their speeches deviated from the prior-reviewed material, the microphone would be turned off, regardless of content. When one student's speech deviated from the prior-reviewed speech, the microphone was turned off, pursuant to District policy and procedure."

Two weeks later, the district offered an apology:

"On behalf of the school district, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for any interpretation of a threat by Mr. Cochran in expressing his displeasure [with what happened].
The district has never intended to nor will take punitive action against Remington Reimer for deviating from the prior-reviewed speech."

Many attendees initially asked if the microphone was turned off because Reimer mentioned religion.

But since the ceremony opened and closed with a prayer, and Reimer's speech mentioned God and Jesus throughout, graduate Zachery Hull believes it had nothing to do with religion.

"Freedom of speech," Hull said. "He said what he was going to say, they did what they had to do. Everyone was right."

Hiram Sasser is the Director of Litigation for the non-profit Liberty Institute that supports religious freedoms.

He represented Remington and his father and says not only did administrators violate the district's own policy but also infringed on federal and state laws guaranteeing Valedictorians free speech.

"I don't think we'll ever know all the particulars of why the microphone was cut off, but at the end of the day, they apologized, they did the right thing and we can move on from here," said Hiram Sasser.

The Reimer family's attorney says both sides want to move on. The family doesn't want the principal fired and feel Remington has been exonerated and can now move on with his college career. The attorney says district leaders will follow policy at future graduations.

Remington left Thursday for the Naval Academy.

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