“We are all fortunate to live in a country where we can express our beliefs, where our mics won’t be turned off, as I have been threatened to be if I veer away from the school-censored speech I have just finished,” he said according to the Star. “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 from you.”
Principal Mick Cochran defended the school’s decision to cut off the audio feed.
“The district has reviewed the rules and policies regarding graduation speeches and has determined that the policy was followed last night,” he told the Star.
But Sasser said the school district violated state and federal laws by censoring Reimer’s speech. He said the law, along with local school policy, requires the school to distance itself from the valedictorian’s speech. That means not editing or drafting the speech.
The school was also required to publish a message in the graduation program that read in part, “the content of each student-speaker’s message is the private expression of the individual student and does not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position or expression of the District.”
Sasser said contrary to the law and its own policies the Joshua Independent School District failed to include the disclaimer and not only edited – but tried to control Reimer’s speech.
“These school officials broke the rules and violated state and federal law and their own board policy,” Sasser said. “They should be held accountable for violating school board policy and causing needless embarrassment for Joshua ISD and the Joshua community.”