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BHS yearbook adviser on paid leave

A violent comment about President Donald Trump made by a Brainerd High School student in the 2016-17 yearbook has led to the school district investigating how the comment made it into the yearbook.

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The Brainerd High School yearbook page that has generated so much controversy. (Forum News Service)

A violent comment about President Donald Trump made by a Brainerd High School student in the 2016-17 yearbook has led to the school district investigating how the comment made it into the yearbook.

Friday, Superintendent Laine Larson confirmed yearbook adviser Joe Wagner is on paid administrative leave while the district investigates the issue. The investigation could be finished next week, she said, but she's not sure.

"I'm asking for a thorough and final investigative report," Larson said. "I certainly am hoping to do this in a timely manner."

One page of the yearbook asks students for their feelings about Trump. One of the four commenters, a sophomore, had harsh words for the president.

"I would like to behead him," the student said. "I do not like him."

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A petition on Change.org to keep Wagner at BHS had 460 signatures as of 3 p.m. Friday. The student's comments ignited a firestorm on social media last week and spurred a gathering of community members and students May 19 at Mickey's Pizza and Subs.

The student who made the comments told the Brainerd Dispatch she said them in September of 2016, when Trump was the Republican presidential candidate during a heated election season. The student said she thought she was joking with an acquaintance when she responded with what she described as a "bad joke," and the quote attributed to her in the yearbook was not an accurate representation of what she said that day.

On May 19, the school district released the following statement on its website: "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 BHS yearbook features grades 9-12 and is put together by students in a yearbook class.

Related Topics: BRAINERD HIGH SCHOOL
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