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Belton principal faces backlash following graduation speech

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BELTON, Mo. – A controversial comment made by the Belton High School principal has his future with the district in question. Dr. Fred Skretta made a comment about police killing young black men while addressing the class of 2015 at the Belton High School graduation.

His comment about police killing young black men set off a firestorm of emotion among parents, students and community members. Some said it was like getting hit in the gut when they least expected it.

Dr. Skretta’s speech was about love, compassion and making the world a better place, and then he made a controversial statement.

"I wanted to be a teacher because I wanted to change the world, I wanted to make it a better place. I’m going to be honest with you, in a lot of ways I fear that we are not there yet. If we were there, we wouldn't have conflicts between police killing young black men," he said.

Dr. Skretta's comment was so offensive to some parents, they got up and walked out of the graduation ceremony.

"I found it very inappropriate, I am highly offended. You don't use the platform of a child's graduation to push a political agenda or push your personal opinions. Your job is supposed to inspire, educate, inform and not indoctronize one way or the other,” one parent said.

FOX 4 reached out to Dr. Skretta for comment with no reply, but a tweet sent from his account shortly after the graduation ceremony reads:

Belton schools responded with an apology of its own.

"Comments were made at graduation and they certainly are not reflective of the district, so we sent out an apology in a statement today that went to all patrons reflecting that," said Dr. Steve Morgan, deputy superintendent.

The district apology goes on to read: "Comments being made at the graduation ceremony are being addressed and district administration is looking into the unfortunate situation."

FOX 4 asked Dr. Morgan how the district is addressing the comments.

"That's a personnel matter and unfortunately we can't discuss that," he said.

But not everyone was offended. Graduate Marquitta Hill lauded the comments.

"I was so happy, I applauded. I said, 'you tell 'em, Dr. Skretta,'" she said.

Hill said it was the first time anyone at the school district addressed ongoing racial tension in America.

"That's where we go to learn. Like they will teach me something that happened back in 1950, but they can't tell me about what's happening now and I think that's ridiculous," she said.

FOX 4 reached out to members of the law enforcement community, who declined to go on camera, but said the overwhelming sentiment was sadness and frustration. They also said they don't make a point of going after people based on race, they make it a point to protect the community.