BARABOO (WKOW) — The Baraboo School District is investigating a photo that is circulating on social media of students allegedly doing the Nazi salute.
The photo of dozens of boys raising their right arm in what appears to be the Nazi salute was posted on Twitter over the weekend. Since then, backlash has followed from the community and across the country.
The photo was posted to @GoBaraboo, a protected Twitter account that bills itself as a Baraboo parody page.
It appears to have been taken on the steps of the Sauk County Courthouse before last spring’s prom.
In an email sent to families Monday morning, Superintendent Dr. Lori Mueller said that the photo was taken last spring of a group of Baraboo students “making extremely inappropriate gestures.”
The Baraboo School District sent the following letter to parents this afternoon in response to a photo circulating on social media. pic.twitter.com/0IXNUdLeRD
— Baraboo Schools (@barabooSD) November 12, 2018
The photo of students posted to #BarabooProud is not reflective of the educational values and beliefs of the School District of Baraboo. The District will pursue any and all available and appropriate actions, including legal, to address.
— Lori M. Mueller (@LoriMMueller) November 12, 2018
The photo was not taken on school property or at a school-sponsored event, Mueller said.
The school district is investigating this situation and is working with parents, staff and local authorities.
“If the gesture is what it appears to be, the district will pursue any and all available and appropriate actions, including legal, to address the issue,” Mueller said.
“With that, we want to be very clear: the Baraboo School District is a hate-free environment where all people, regardless of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin or ancestry, are respected and celebrated,” read the email to parents.
City administrator Ed Geick also released a statement Monday, saying the Baraboo Police Department is investigating.
The school district posted on its social media pages Monday morning;
“The photo of students posted to #BarabooProud is not reflective of the educational values and beliefs of the School District of Baraboo. We are investigating and will pursue any and all available and appropriate actions, including legal, to address.”
Baraboo police are assisting the school district with it’s investigation, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland responded to the tweet.
“We need to explain what is the danger of hateful ideology rising,” read the post.
It is so hard to find words…
This is why every single day we work hard to educate. We need to explain what is the danger of hateful ideology rising. Auschwitz with its gas chambers was at the very end of the long process of normalizing and accommodating hatred. https://t.co/13AzZaMGJR
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 12, 2018
One of the students in the photograph, Jordan Blue, confirmed that the photo was taken at the Sauk County Courthouse before prom.
In a message to a contributor to Vice.com, Blue, who was not showing the salute in the photo, said “I am clearly uncomfortable with what is happening. I couldn’t leave the photo as it was taken in 5 seconds.
I spoke with the only student who is visibly not comfortable with the “salute”, he provided this statement. pic.twitter.com/HbNBc8xLOK
— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) November 12, 2018
The photo is from an online photo gallery from prom posted at Wheelphotos.com.
The photos have since been removed and replaced with a statement:
“Due to malevolent behavior on the part of some in society; this page has been modified. It is too bad that there are those in society who can and do take the time to be jerks; knowingly and willingly to be jerks! The internet can be a wonderful tool but for some there is an overwhelming urge to destroy. The destruction may not be physical but instead it can be bullying that is intellectual or emotional. To anyone that was hurt I sincerely apologize.
To those who have harmed them, we as society often ignore them I have chosen not to do that. YOU ARE JERKS! Grow up!”