Brainerd High School is at the center of a social media storm set off by actor Scott Baio, the former “Happy Days” star and supporter of GOP President Donald Trump.
Baio tweeted and posted on Facebook a page from the school’s yearbook that was filled with student criticism of Trump. What set off the actor was one comment about Trump that read, “I would like to behead him. I do not like him.”
Baio tweeted the yearbook page Friday morning, copying the president’s personal Twitter account as well as those of the FBI, presidential spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway and Fox News commentator Sean Hannity.
Baio also posted the item on his Facebook page — which is headed by a picture of the actor and Trump giving the thumbs-up sign. On Friday afternoon, Hannity also shared the item on his Facebook page, which has nearly 3 million followers.
The beheading comment wasn’t the only criticism of Trump offered in the yearbook. Several other student quotes on the page criticized the president, calling him “racist” and “sexist” and “rude.”
Voters in Crow Wing County, where Brainerd is located, clearly didn’t agree — in the presidential election, Trump got twice as many votes as Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, winning 62 percent of the county’s votes to 31 percent for Clinton.
By early afternoon, commenters were flooding the Brainerd High School Facebook page with angry criticism.
One commenter said the student should be reported to Homeland Security and charged with terroristic threatening. Another asked, “This is Minnesota nice?”
Phones at the Brainerd Public Schools office went unanswered Friday, but the school district issued a statement of apology.
“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.
“The Administration is currently investigating how this occurred and is reviewing the District’s processes to ensure that this type of unacceptable situation does not occur in the future.
“The Administration deeply regrets that the existing processes for reviewing the yearbook did not result in the removal of the inappropriate statements.”
John Reinan • 612-673-7402