High school graduation ceremony in Wisconsin interrupted by student's father


Speculation, accusations swirl after video shows dad shoving superintendent at graduation ceremony

The incident was in reportedly in response to how the student had been bullied at school.


Tricia Crimmins


During a high school graduation ceremony, a student’s father jumped onstage and pushed the district’s superintendent away from his daughter. Some think the man did so because the superintendent is Black.

“You better get up off of me, man,” the superintendent, Rainey Briggs, said to the father. “Get away from me, bro.”

A video of the incident, which took place on May 31, was posted on X and Reddit, where it went viral on both platforms. A man’s voice in the video said “I don’t want her touching him.” According to a restraining order filed by Briggs, the father also said “you are not going to touch my (expletive) daughter.”

After the father and superintendent went offstage, the graduating students can be heard booing and jeering.

As reported by Channel 3000, a Wisconsin broadcast news outlet, the parent didn’t want his daughter to shake the superintendent’s hand because of how the district responded to his daughter being bullied at school.

Baraboo High School graduation ceremony response

But many online—the video has been viewed almost 4 million times on X—say that the incident seemed racially motivated.

“The father of a Baraboo High School student in Wisconsin storms the stage to stop a Black school district superintendent from shaking his daughter’s hand at her graduation ceremony,” political commentator Keith Boykin tweeted. “But tell me again how we’ve never been a racist country.”

“Dr. Briggs is an excellent superintendent who cares deeply about the well-being of all students in the Baraboo District,” Wisconsin State Representative Frencesca Hong tweeted. “No one should have to endure this type of gross & racist conduct.”

“Horrid,” former Illinois congressional candidate Qasim Rashid tweeted. “Grotesque white supremacy. My condolences to Superintendent Rainey Briggs.”

However, some are calling the public outcry around the incident a “hate hoax.” Information Liberation, a far-right news site, reported that the father is being “dragged through the mud by the media” even though, as cited by Channel 3000, his actions were in reference to how Briggs responded to his daughter being bullied.

Since the graduation ceremony, the school district of Baraboo has started to investigate the father’s motives and local law enforcement referred a charge of disorderly conduct for him to the Sauk County District Attorney’s Office. 

In a statement reported by WMTV, a local Wisconsin outlet, the Baraboo School Board said the situation was deeply troubling.

“No employee of the School District of Baraboo should fear for their physical safety when fulfilling their job duties or at any other time,” the statement said. “This type of behavior will not be tolerated.”

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