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Missouri School Superintendent Forced Out After 'Offending' Students for Praying at Graduation

A retiring school district superintendent in Missouri has been forced out of his job after students complained about him inviting the crowd at a high school graduation ceremony last month to stand while he prayed.

Willard School District Superintendent Kent Medlin has been suspended by the school board on grounds that he violated policy and possibly the establishment clause of the First Amendment with his prayer during the May 13 Willard High School graduation ceremony at JQH Arena in Springfield.

The Springfield News-Leader reported Tuesday that the Willard School Board voted in a special meeting on May 26 to place Medlin on a paid leave of absence because of "the blessing" he offered at the school-sponsored ceremony, which is something he has done at school graduation ceremonies in past years.

The board's action was based on its belief that "Dr. Medlin's high school commencement speech violated Board of Education policies regarding prayer at school-sponsored events." The school board immediately notified Medline of his suspension.

The suspension comes as Medlin was set to retire at the end of the school year. According to the News-Leader, Medlin was forced to clean out his office weeks before his June 30 retirement date.

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