Wisconsin District Investigates Photo of Boys Giving What Appears to Be Nazi Salute

November 12, 2018 10:52 PM

A Wisconsin school district is investigating a photo of a group of high school boys giving what appears to be a Nazi salute.

Baraboo Superintendent Lori Mueller says she became aware of the photo Monday after it was posted on social media. In a statement Monday afternoon, the district said it was taken before prom last spring.


"In the photo, Baraboo students appear to make an extremely inappropriate gesture," read part of the statement. "It is a gesture widely recognized for its association with intolerance, violence and hate.

"We are extremely troubled by the image. The school district and local authorities continue to investigate, speaking with the students and families involved to determine how and why this photo was taken."

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Mueller said the photo doesn't reflect the district's values and that administrators will pursue appropriate action. Baraboo police are also investigating.

The photo of more than 60 male students dressed in suits shows many with their right arm extended upward while posed on the steps of the Sauk County Courthouse.. The Auschwitz Memorial tweeted that the photo is why it works hard "to explain what is the danger of hateful ideology rising."

The photo spread quickly on Twitter Sunday night and Monday morning with the hashtag #barabooproud, which is often used by the district to promote its activities and athletic programs.

Because of the national media attention, the district has decided to place Baraboo High School on a modified administrative hold, which means detailed notes are kept on who is permitted in and out of the school.

The district also said if parents feel their student needs mental health support, or was being bullied or harassed as a result of this incident, they should call 608-355-3950, ext. 1010.

"Let us be very clear: hate has no home in the Baraboo School District," the statement concluded. "Our schools are spaces where all people - regardless of their race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin or ancestry - are respected and celebrated. The safety of our students and schools is our most important priority.

"Clearly, we have a lot of work to do to ensure that our schools remain positive and safe environments for all students, staff and community. We will provide more information on this incident as it becomes available."

EdGeick, the Baraboo city administrator, issued the following statement Monday:

"This morning a photo of a Baraboo High School Class that was taken last spring has been widely disseminated through the web. The photo shows students who appear to be making extremely inappropriate gestures. The matter is under investigation by the Baraboo Police Department and the School District. Citizens of Baraboo know that what is shown in the photo is not representative of our Downtown, the Baraboo area or Sauk County as a whole. As community leaders who work with our public on a regular basis, we know that Baraboo is a good community that is welcoming and tolerant. The photo certainly does not represent this community and the wonderful people who live here."

Baraboo is a town of about 12,000 residents that is about 115 miles (185 kilometers) northwest of Milwaukee.

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