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School Apologizes for Threatening Valedictorian

By Todd Starnes

A Texas school district has apologized to a high school valedictorian whose appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy was threatened after he delivered a speech that referenced God and the U.S. Constitution — in defiance of district policies.

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Remington Reimer, a senior at Joshua High School, made national headlines on June 6 when officials cut off his microphone in mid-speech after he strayed from pre-approved remarks and began talking about his relationship with Jesus Christ.

Reimer, who has received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, thanked 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.”

The following day the principal, Mick Cochran, met with Reimer’s father and informed him “that he intended to punish Remington for his perceived misdeed,” according to Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for the Liberty Institute.

“Specifically, he threatened to send a letter to the United States Naval Academy advising them that Remington has poor character or words to that effect,” Sasser told Fox News. “The principal said he wanted to try to ruin him for what he did – for talking about the Constitution and his faith.”

Fran Merek, the superintendent of the Joshua Independent School District, issued a carefully worded statement apologizing for the incident.

“On behalf of the school district, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Mr. Todd Reimer and Remington Reimer for any interpretation of a threat by Mr. Cochran in expressing his displeasure at a meeting on Friday morning between Mr. Todd Reimer and Mr. Cochran following Remington Reimer’s valedictory address,” Marek wrote in a statement. “The District has never intended to nor will take punitive action against Remington Reimer for deviating from the prior-reviewed speech.  The District endorses Remington Reimer’s appointment to the Naval Academy and wishes him success for all future endeavors in his naval career.  District officials will ensure that district policy is followed at future graduation ceremonies.”
Sasser said he was satisfied with the district’s apology and said it was the right thing to do.
“We are thankful for the leadership of Superintendent Marek in favorably resolving this matter,” he said. “We commend her and the district for having the courage to do the right thing.”
Reimer, too, was pleased with the outcome.
“I always knew the school district would support me in the end,” he said. “God bless you, Superintendent Marek.”
The school district initially defended their decision to cut off his microphone noting, “student speakers were told that if their speeches deviated from the prior-reviewed material, the microphone would be turned off, regardless of content.”
Reimer’s speech was subjected to at least four reviews. According to a draft obtained by Fox News, the school district not only ordered him to remove paragraphs and sentences, but they also instructed him on what to say.
Following is the part of Reimer’s speech that was not approved by the district:
“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 to Lt. Col. Davidson, for providing me with opportunities that I would of 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 fortunate to live in a country where we can express our beliefs.
Where our mikes won’t be turned off, as I have been threated to be if I veer away from the school-censored speech that I have just finished.
Just as Jesus spoke out against the authority of the Pharisees and Saducees, who tried to silence Him, I will not have my freedom of speech taken away from me.
And I urge you 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 will you all the best and let’s get this race going!”

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