BRAINERD, Minn – A student comment published in the 2016-2017 Brainerd High School school yearbook has caused an uproar on social media.
The page titled, “Trump 2k17-2k20? How do you feel about him?” displays comments made by students regarding their feelings about President Donald Trump. One student is quoted saying, “I would like to behead him. I do not like him.”
Photos of the yearbook page were posted on Facebook, generating outraged comments by community members and others.
Parents of current and former Brainerd High School students went to the school today to question the administration’s decision to allow the comments in the yearbook. Stephanie Tougas, Mary Tuomi and Bobbi Thiesse told Alpha News that the issue was not a political one, “They allowed it (the statements) to happen. They need to own their actions – that’s what we teach our kids, the ‘adults’ need to do the same.”
On Friday afternoon, Brainerd School District ISD 181 released a statement addressing the issue on the school website (https://isd181.org/#article2). In the statement, the district said the administration was unaware of the statements and that it does not support or endorse them. It goes on to say the district is investigating the incident and will be “reviewing the process to ensure that this type of unacceptable situation does not occur in the future.”
According to the ISD 181 District Policy 512-IIA, “Expressions and representations made by students in school-sponsored publications and activities are not expressions of official school district policy. Faculty advisors shall supervise student writers to ensure compliance with the law and school district policies.” Yearbooks are included as “official school publications.”
The yearbook is compiled by BHS students who are supervised by Yearbook Advisor and Art teacher, Joe Wagner. Wagner has received messages from angry people on his Facebook page, with many expressing disgust over him allowing the statements to be published.
A graph on the controversial yearbook page shows more students with a negative view of Trump than a positive one. The poll does not show the numbers of students questioned for their views, and contradicts the results of the BHS mock election held last fall. As the Brainerd Dispatch reported, BHS students overwhelmingly voted for Trump – 688 to Hillary Clinton’s 397 votes. Crow Wing County, where BHS is located, voted for Trump by almost two to one: Trump won Crow Wing County with more than 62% of the vote, beating Clinton by more than 11,000 votes, 22,287 to 10,982.
Last week, a North Carolina high school recalled their yearbook after school officials saw a senior student’s quote that read “Build the Wall”. Richmond Early College High School’s yearbooks were recalled because some students on social media considered the quote to be racist and hurtful to classmates, reported the Associated Press. Since it was too late to reprint the yearbook, students were given refunds. No students were disciplined over this incident.
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