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SIGNS: Wisconsin High School Graduate’s Father Pushed Black Superintendent To Block Handshake

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An unwarranted assault incident unfolded at a recent graduation ceremony in Wisconsin, promoting rumors of racism to disrupt what should have been a joyous celebration.

As the graduates of Baraboo High School were receiving their diplomas, a father, who hasn’t been identified in order to protect his daughter, pushed Superintendent Rainey Briggs away from his daughter forcibly negating their congratulatory handshake.

Briggs, a Black man, was approached by the graduate’s father, a white male dressed in a white polo shirt and baseball cap, after he ran onto the stage just moments after his daughter had been handed her diploma. School officials, including School Board President Kevin Vodak, and board members Gwynne Peterson, Katie Kalish, Amy DeLong, and Baraboo High School Principal Steve Considine, were all also present on stage during the incident but were not approached by the man.

Once the father reached the stage, he grabbed Briggs by the right arm and pushed him out of frame away from the girl.

“That’s my daughter,” the man was heard shouting in a video captured of the tense incident. Briggs responded, “You better get up off me man. Get away from me bro,” as staff and three police officers, including the school resource officer, intervened.

The confrontation did not escalate further, thanks to the prompt intervention of the officers who escorted the man off the stage and out of the venue. The district later confirmed that a disorderly conduct charge has been referred to the Sauk County District Attorney’s Office.

In a statement, the School District of Baraboo emphasized their commitment to student safety following the incident.

“Our primary focus remains on celebrating the achievements of our graduates. We want to ensure that the significance of this milestone and the hard work of our students are not overshadowed by this unfortunate event,” said district spokesperson Hailey Wagner.

The incident took place reportedly as a particularly volatile atmosphere hovers above the school district. A significant group of residents, including former district employees, have been vocally critical of Briggs and other administrators, and are currently attempting to recall School Board President Vodak. The recall campaign is currently in full swing and requires over 2,500 signatures by July 14 to force a recall election, which, if successful, could take place as early as late August or early September.

The school district confirmed an investigation is underway and assured the community that it is taking the incident very seriously and is working closely with law enforcement to ensure the safety and well-being of all students, staff, and community members.

Watch the video of the altercation above.

Devon Jefferson

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