Omar Villafranca, NBC 5 News
Remington Reimer wants Joshua school leaders to apologize for cutting his microphone during his valedictorian speech at graduation.
The North Texas high school valedictorian who had this speech cut off last week is speaking out.
Remington Reimer was giving his valedictorian speech to the graduating class of Joshua High School when school officials cut off his microphone. Reimer broke school policy of sticking to an approved script, the officials said.
Reimer said school officials not only asked to see his speech, they made changes to it.
“I just assumed it was grammatical editing, which I assumed that what they want to make sure was I didn’t make any mistakes while I was on the stage,” Reimer said. “I didn't expect it to be anything of a sort of deleting lines, adding sentences, changing the whole message of the speech."
Reimer said his approved speech didn’t sound like he wrote it, and that the speech was missing key parts, including a part where he talks about faith, family and teachers. When Reimer started reading that section, his microphone was turned off.
“I first thanked my family for raising me in a Christian home, I thanked a few teachers, I thanked God,” Reimer said.
Ironically, Reimer also said he wanted to talk about free speech and constitutional rights.
“I'm passionate about my constitutional rights. It disappoints me that they had the power to cut me off just simply by not reading what they wanted me to read,” Reimer said.
Hiram Sasser with the Liberty Institute is now Reimer’s attorney. Sasser said the school violated its own rules when it comes to valedictorian speeches.
“The school officials violated their own district policy by pre-approving a speech, by censoring a speech, by cutting off the microphone,” Sasser said. “The board policy says it’s the free speech of the valedictorian and they're supposed to be giving whatever speech they want to give.”
Sasser was referring to the state education code, chapter 25, article III, which states:
“The school district shall treat a student's voluntary expression of a religious viewpoint, if any, on an otherwise permissible subject in the same manner the district treats a student's voluntary expression of a secular or other viewpoint on an otherwise permissible subject and may not discriminate against the student based on a religious viewpoint expressed by the student on an otherwise permissible subject.
A written disclaimer shall be printed in the graduation program that states, "The students who will be speaking at the graduation ceremony were selected based on neutral criteria to deliver messages of the students' own choices. The content of each student speaker's message is the private expression of the individual student and does not reflect any position or expression of the school district or the board of trustees, or the district's administration, or employees of the district, or the views of any other graduate. The contents of these messages were prepared by the student volunteers, and the district refrained from any interaction with student speakers regarding the student speakers' viewpoints on permissible subjects."
Sasser said he wants the school district to apologize to Reimer and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“I don't want this to happen to anyone, to any other valedictorian in the state of Texas or really, nationwide,” Reimer added.
NBC 5 contacted the Joshua Independent School District for comment, but didn’t hear back.
Last week, Joshua ISD Superintendent Fran Marek said the district was standing by its policy of only allowing students to read approved speeches and not deviating from them.