Joshua valedictorian cut off during speech says district violated state law

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by CARLA WADE

Bio | Email | Follow: @CarlaNWade

WFAA

Posted on June 13, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 13 at 8:01 PM

PLANO –– The Joshua High School valedictorian silenced in the middle of his graduation speech is challenging school district officials again.

Remington Reimer now has a lawyer who is arguing that school officials violated state law when they cut him off.

“I was told it was supposed to be traditional,” said Remington Reimer from a Plano office building on Thursday, his attorney Hiram Sasser standing by his side.

But the 19-year-old wanted to break with tradition. Instead of doing what he was told, he did what he felt. Instead of sticking to a script, once behind the podium he spoke his mind and his microphone was cut off. 

“I felt impassioned about my constitutional rights and I didn’t want them taken away from me,” Reimer said.

Sasser works for the Liberty Institute, an organization dedicated to defending religious freedoms. He said Reimer had little control over the content of his own speech and that the lines Reimer added did not violate any policy. 

In a letter sent to the Joshua school district superintendent and school board, he said the district violated the Religious Viewpoints Anti-discrimination Act passed in 2007. Sasser said it is also board policy.

“There was a whole collection of school officials that wanted to see his speech, edit his speech and it ended up not really being his speech at all," Sasser said. “It ended up being the school’s speech.” 

A copy of the letter sent to the school district can be found online here.

Sasser said the district only needed to provide a disclaimer that Reimer spoke for himself and no one else.

Here is copy of the portion of Reimer’s speech that was unapproved and led to his microphone being silenced:

But before I finish I want to thank my family who raised me in a loving Christian home. Thank Dr. Bodiford, through his UIL Social Studies team that gave me a true appreciation for history and motivation to learn. And Lt. Col. Davidson for providing me with opportunities that I would have otherwise never had. 

But most importantly, I want to thank God for Giving up His only son for us to an excruciating death on a cross so His blood would cover all our shortcomings and provide for us a way to heaven in accepting His grace. I worked hard to earn the right to address you all tonight as valedictorian and have the constitutional right — like any of you –– to freely speak about the factors that contributed to my success. 

We are all fortunate to live in country where we can express our beliefs. Where our mikes won’t be turned off, as I have been threatened to if I veer away from the school-censored speech I have just finished. Just as Jesus spoke out against the authority of the Pharisees and Sadducees, who tried to silence Him, I will not have my freedom of speech taken away from me. 

And I urge you all to do the same. Do not let anyone take away your religious or Constitutional rights away from you. This will be the first and last time many of you will hear me speak. I wish you all the best and let’s get this race going.

School officials maintained Reimer was supposed to stick to his approved speech. Attempts to reach district officials before news time were not successful. 

The school has 60 days to respond to the letter. Reimer and his attorney said they simply want an apology and for the district to admit it violated policy. Reimer is set to begin training at the Air Force Academy on June 27. 

He says he worried about threats by school officials to report his conduct to the academy, but believes he is doing the right thing. 

“I felt like if I don’t stand up, who will?” said Reimer.

Email cwade@wfaa.com

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