ICC Note: Kent Medlin, the superintendent of a school district in Missouri, was recently placed on leave for leading a prayer at a high school graduation. Medlin, who planned on retiring at the end of June, has been placed on paid leave until his contract expires on June 30. Although Medlin invited parents to stand during the prayer for the students, no one was forced to participate in the prayer.
By Heather Clark
06/11/2017 United States (Christian News Network) – A Missouri superintendent who already planned on retiring at the end of his contract has been suspended for leading parents in a prayer of blessing over their children at a recent high school graduation.
According to reports, the Willard School Board, voted to place Superintendent Kent Medlin on a paid leave of absence until his contract expires at the end of this month.
“The leave will continue through June 30, 2017 when Dr. Medlin’s contract expires,” it said in a statement. “The board’s action was 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.”
As previously reported, in addition to offering general encouragement, Medlin mentioned “the Savior” and referenced the Bible during the May 13 graduation ceremony for Willard High School. He also invited parents voluntarily to stand for a prayer of blessing over the students.
However, following the ceremony, four students took to the media to state that the religious content of his message made them uncomfortable, and they felt “pressured” to stand up for the prayer when others did so.
“I was upset by it. I thought it was offensive to anyone who was attending who was not of the Christian faith,” graduate Joseph Amundson told the Springfield News Leader. “I didn’t stand because it made me so mad that he did that.”
Some students came to Medlin’s defense, stating that they were blessed by his contribution. They also noted that students were never asked to stand for the prayer—only parents.