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A Double Standard For Discipline? Why Students Weren’t Punished After A Nazi Salute (Rebroadcast)

A student raises her hand during class.
Larry W. Smith/Getty Images
A student raises her hand during class.

A small city in Wisconsin recently made headlines after a photo of high schoolers apparently giving a Nazi salute went viral.

h/t @CarlySidey pic.twitter.com/BL8lDVLMA4

— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) November 12, 2018

The students won’t be punished. School administrator Lori Mueller wrote “we cannot know the intentions in the hearts of those who were involved,” in a letter obtained by *The Baraboo News Republic.

That decision sparked widespread condemnation.

Madison, Wisconsin’s former poet laureatewrote:

Baraboo’s superintendent, Lori Mueller, said in a letter that the district was “not in a position to punish the students for their actions” because of their First Amendment rights.” Neither she nor the School Board, in passing an anti-hate resolution, show regard for these students or respect for Jewish people. Rather, the resolution sends a message that Baraboo is more concerned about its image than doing the real, hard work of teaching and modeling justice, equity and inclusion to its students.

But many have suggested that there’s a double standard between the disciplinary actions taken on the white students (Baraboo is about 94 percent white) and students of color around the country protesting police brutality..

The photo was taken by a parent before the prom, and the photographer insists that he prompted the boys to wave goodbye to their parents instead.

What responsibilities do elementary, middle and high schools have to monitor speech, especially at an age in which many students are still living at home? What are the best practices for teaching children about difficult topics, like the Holocaust?

Produced by Bianca Martin.


Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, Civil rights attorney, Systems Change Consulting; synagogue president, Congregation Shaarei Shamayim in Madison, WI; @jspitznick

Peter Vedro, Sauk County Board Chairman, Wisconsin

Francisco Vara-Orta, National reporter and data specialist, Chalkbeat education news; @fvaraorta

Allen Smith, Chief of Culture, Equity & Leadership Team, Denver Public Schools

For more, visit https://the1a.org.

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