‘Hate has no home in Baraboo:’ District lists 13 ‘educational steps’ to be taken after controversial photo
BARABOO — Wisconsin school district officials have unveiled a plan that they hope will instill more empathy and understanding in students after a photo recently surfaced showing several dozen high schoolers giving what appears to be a Nazi salute.
In a letter to parents Tuesday, the Baraboo School District listed 13 “educational steps” it will take in response to the photo, which was taken last spring and was roundly condemned when it was posted on social media.
The plan doesn’t call for disciplining any of the students who appeared to salute in the photo, which was taken by a parent and didn’t take place on school grounds. The superintendent has said that officials cannot know the “intentions in the hearts” of those involved and that the district couldn’t punish the students because they are protected by the First Amendment.
Among the steps the district plans to take, though, is to send students on annual field trips to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois, and to add Holocaust speakers to middle school curriculum.
The district also plans a day of peace assemblies on Dec. 18 for high school students and to develop faculty skills in teaching social justice, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
The list is “not all-inclusive and will continue to grow over the next few months and year,” the school board and District Administrator Lori Mueler wrote.
“As previously stated, hate has no home in Baraboo. We understand the moral responsibility we have to be relentless in our work to create a hate-free environment,” they wrote.
The photo of about 60 boys was taken last spring outside the Sauk County Courthouse in Baraboo, which is about 95 miles (152 kilometers) northwest of Milwaukee. About two-thirds of the boys had their right arms raised in what appears to be a Nazi salute.
The parent who took the photo said he was simply asking the teens to wave goodbye to their parents before they headed to the prom.