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A Missouri public school administrator who turned a graduation ceremony into a church service has been pushed into an early retirement.

Willard High School’s Superintendent Kent Medlin should have talked about the students’ futures when he spoke to the new graduates; instead, he gave a sermon.


He asked students to stand up and pray as a Christian, quoting the Bible numerous times throughout. Many students felt extremely ostracized by the situation, when choosing not to pray,” said Ashlynn Bradley, a senior. “Dr. Medlin, the superintendent, even invited students to his office for coffee to discuss ‘the Lord.’ This was incredibly inappropriate.”

He’s done this for years, apparently, and students were unhappy with it. They even sent him letters this year asking for him to leave religion out of it. He ignored them, so they went to the media.

Sophia Spangler, a senior who spoke at graduation, said the prayer didn’t contradict her beliefs and there were many Christians at the ceremony who likely felt comfortable. But, she believes Medlin’s actions were out of line.

“There were a number of individuals who were made uncomfortable,” she said. “We live in an area of predominately one faith but that can be isolating to people of other faiths.

Joseph Amundson, a senior, said he chose not to stand and doesn’t want future graduates to feel the same pressure.

“I was upset by it. I thought it was offensive to anyone who was attending who was not of the Christian faith,” he said. “I didn’t stand because it made me so mad that he did that.”

“I came there to graduate, not go to church. It kind of ruined the rest of my night,” said Preston Schaeffer, a senior. “That was the last night of my high school experience and he chose to talk about religion instead of graduation.”

Medlin gave a non-apology apology (I’m sorry if anyone was offended…) but didn’t really take responsibility for his actions. The school board was clearly fed up by his insubordination. So even though he was planning on retiring later this month, the board asked him to leave early though they’ll pay him through the end of his contract.

The Willard school board, in a special meeting, voted to place the longtime leader on a “paid leave of absence” through the end of his contract.

The board took the action, according to a statement, based “upon the board’s belief that Dr. Medlin’s High School commencement speech violated Board of Education policies regarding prayer at school-sponsored events.”

No kidding. There’s no reason to keep him around when it’s clear he doesn’t respect the students or the law. Good riddance. Don’t let the Constitution hit you on the way out.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.