BRAINERD, MN – A threatening remark toward President Donald Trump that was published in the Brainerd High School yearbook has resulted in the paid leave of the school’s yearbook advisor.
Brainerd school district Superintendent Laine Larson has confirmed Joe Wagner, the yearbook advisor, is on paid leave while the school district investigates why the comment, a threat against President Donald Trump, made it into the yearbook.
The yearbook is a student-run publication that is published through a yearbook class.
The controversial comment was featured on a page that asked students about their thoughts on Donald Trump. The student, a sophomore, said “I would like to behead him. I do not like him.”
The Brainerd Dispatch reports that the student said she made the comment in September 2016 during the height of a heated election season. She said she responded with what she calls a “bad joke” and claims the quote in the yearbook was not an accurate representation of what she said that day, according to the Dispatch.
Students at the High School are supporting Wagner. A petition called “Keep Joe Wagner at BHS” on Change.org has more than 481 signatures as of 11:00 a.m. on Monday.
A statement on the Brainerd Public Schools ISD 181 website says, “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.”
Superintendent Larson told the Brainerd Dispatch the investigation could be finished next week.
“I’m asking for a thorough and final investigative report,” Larson said. “I certainly am hoping to do this in a timely manner.”