BRAINERD, Minn. - The end of the school year is always chaotic with finals, graduation and other rites of passage all packed together in a few weeks time.
A flap over a page in the high school yearbook is stirring up things even more at Brainerd High School, raising questions about freedom of expression and what's appropriate in the process.
The page in question is dedicated to noteworthy events from 2016-2017, headlined by the election of Donald Trump as President, and asks students, "How do you feel about him?" While all four comments are generally critical about Trump, one student is quoted as saying, "I would like to behead him. I do not like him."
As word of the yearbook comment spread it jumped like wildfire, with people sharing and posting all over social media. Actor Scott Baio, a noted political conservative, retweeted the image, tagging Trump, the FBI, Sean Hannity and Kellyanne Conway.
State Senator Dan Hall, who represents the Brainerd area, tweeted "Threatening our President in the Brainerd Year Book is okay with staff? Who will lose their job? Who okayed this? Guiding our children?"
KARE 11's Zachery Lashway, in Brainerd gathering the story, reports heated exchanges between students, parents and taxpayers near the school grounds.
On Friday afternoon the Brainerd Public Schools released a statement on the controversy condemning the statement about the president and other issues. It reads:
The administration of Brainerd Public Schools has been notified that the 2016-2017 high school yearbook contains highly disrespectful statements from students about political figures, including the President of the United States. The administration was previously unaware of the students’ statements in the yearbook. The district does not support or otherwise endorse any disrespectful or politically based statements that are in the yearbook and apologizes for the statements that were included. While the district supports free speech, the disrespectful statements in the yearbook are contrary to the basic educational mission of the district and should not have been included in a school sponsored publication. The administration is currently investigating how this occurred and is reviewing the district’s processes to ensure that this type of unacceptable situation does not occur in the future. The administration deeply regrets that the existing processes for reviewing the yearbook did not result in the removal of the inappropriate statements.
The district statement references additional statements, one of which may be a published comment from a sophomore that reads "Trump is racist, sexist and basically is OK with rapists."
We have a crew in Brainerd and will have the latest on this story live on KARE 11 News at 5 and 6 p.m.
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