Remington Reimer, the valedictorian whose microphone was shut off during his graduation-ceremony speech earlier this month after deviating from preapproved remarks, today received a requested apology from the school district.
But the apology wasn't for hitting the mute button; it was for "any interpretation of a threat" from Reimer's former high school principal who allegedly intended to send a letter to the Naval Academy—where Reimer is headed this fall—to inform officials there of Reimer's actions during his speech.
Here's the apology; it can be found on the Joshua (Tex.) Independent School District's web site:
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. 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.
Fran Marek, Superintendent
Reimer said in a statement, "I always knew that the school district would support me in the end. God bless you, Superintendent Marek and members of the Joshua ISD Board of Trustees."
Reimer's father, Todd Reimer is a doctorate-level physics and math teacher at Joshua High School—the same school where Remington graduated as valedictorian. Last week the elder Reimer told TheBlaze that reports were true regarding Remington's former principal allegedly threatening to write a letter to the Naval Academy.
Todd Reimer's statement read:
"The principal did threaten Remington through me. The school board has access to information to verify this if they desire since the principal sought legal counsel concerning the actions he wanted to take on my son to destroy his future. The principal came back to me later that day, June 7, and said that legally he could only send a personal letter to the Naval Academy and strip Remington of all honors related to character. When he gave the diploma to Remington that afternoon, he did not repeat his threat; however, he did mention that consulting with legal counsel had already cost the district $3000. Lt. Col. Davidson of the NJROTC program at Joshua was in the room on this occasion."
Joshua High School Principal, Mick Cochran, replied to TheBlaze's request for comment on the initial allegations with two words: “Not true.” Cochran later added, “The young man and I spoke the following day, we shook hands and moved on. The facts are being blown out of proportion. The incident is over.”
Cochran didn't respond to TheBlaze's request for comment on Todd Reimer's statement, which included these observations:
"In all this, the principal’s action and reaction are what has hurt Remington’s feelings the most. As we have gone through this process, I have learned how much Remington admired the principal. I also personally like him and am grieved that this has happened.
"One of the lessons we have learned in all of this is: Well-intentioned people who don’t know policy/the Constitution can often implement rules/laws that infringe upon the rights of others. This is a microcosm of what is happening in our nation at large."
TheBlaze ran its first story on this incident, detailing that the likely reason Remington's microphone was shut off was because he veered from preapproved remarks to discuss losing his Constitutional right of freedom of speech...not because he mentioned God or his faith, as other reports have indicated.
TheBlaze followed up with an article focusing on Remington retaining the legal counsel of Liberty Institute to clear his name after Cochran allegedly indicated he would write a letter to the Naval Academy as punishment.
Strangely enough a local news outlet posted a short profile on Reimer on the day of graduation, and you’d never know by reading it that there were any issues between Remington and Principal Cochran:
Cochran said that he has no doubt that Reimer, who plans to major in physics, will be an outstanding addition to the naval academy.
“He has a great inner drive,” Cochran said. “You could put Remington in the middle of a desert all by himself and he would still find a way to be successful. I fully expect him to be a general someday. For that young man, the sky is the limit.”
Todd Reimer's statement to TheBlaze includes the following as well:
"This is a complicated story since I am both a parent and a teacher. I am grieved to have to go through this process. Joshua is a great community and JISD is a wonderful school district. I am proud of the education both my children have received from JISD. My daughter will be a senior next year and one of the drum majors in the band. I enjoy teaching here, and I would not be here if I thought otherwise.
"It is unfortunate that this has happened. The Joshua community is a conservative, religious community. The community does not deserve to be disparaged because of this event.
"I am hopeful the school board will implement changes to make sure their policy about graduation ceremonies will be followed in the future. My family does not want this to happen to another Valedictorian in the future. We also want to make sure the district is protected by the disclaimer that was not included in the graduation program, as it should have been by school board policy. I am hopeful they will also apologize to Remington."
Liberty Institute sent an official notice letter to the superintendent and board of the Joshua Independent School District. According to the letter, school officials broke Texas state law in two ways:
- by not distancing themselves from the content of the valedictorian’s speech;
- by not printing a disclaimer in the graduation program that should state “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.”
Superintendent Marek didn't respond to TheBlaze’s requests for comment, but we found this statement from Marek on the district’s Web site:
The District has reviewed the rules and policy regarding graduation speech, and it has been determined that policy was followed at the Joshua High School 2013 Graduation Ceremony. The valedictorian, salutatorian, and class historian speeches were reviewed in advance by the campus staff, prior to the graduation ceremony. 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.
Joshua ISD Superintendent
Here’s a video snippet of Reimer getting cut off mid-speech:
(H/T: Todd Starnes/Fox News)