A deeply disturbing incident unfolded during the graduation ceremony at Baraboo High School in Wisconsin, where a white father aggressively prevented the Black superintendent from shaking his daughter’s hand. This event took place last Friday at the same school which made national headlines in 2018 for a controversial photo of students performing a Nazi salute.

The graduation, meant to be a celebration, turned contentious when a man, whose identity remains undisclosed to protect his daughter, stormed the stage. Captured on graduation footage, the man intervened as his daughter was about to shake hands with Superintendent Rainey Briggs. Briggs, who is Black and took office in 2021, was forcibly dragged away by the irate father who exclaimed, “That’s my daughter.” Briggs was heard responding, “You better get up off me man,” as the altercation moved off-camera.

The Baraboo School District, in response to the event, has pressed charges against the father for disorderly conduct, referring the case to the Sauk County District Attorney’s Office. District spokesperson Hailey Wagner emphasized, “We would like to emphasize that the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and community members is a top priority.”

This incident is not the first controversy for the school. In 2018, a photo surfaced showing students, both former and current, giving a Nazi salute. This image, captured before their junior prom, was widely condemned, though the school stated it was not affiliated with any school event or the district itself. The then-superintendent Lori Mueller responded to the outrage by emphasizing that the photo did not reflect the district’s values but also noted that the district could not punish the students involved due to their right to free speech.

Last week’s graduation incident occurred against a backdrop of ongoing tensions within the district, including debates over superintendent pay and resource management, which have led some parents to attempt a recall of the School Board President Kevin Vodak.

This series of events underscores the ongoing challenges and divisions within the Baraboo community, highlighting a need for continued dialogue and understanding about race, leadership, and community values.



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