Wisconsin Superintendent Obtains Restraining Order Against Father Who Interrupted Graduation

A Wisconsin school principal obtained a restraining order against a parent who rushed the stage at a recent high school graduation and blocked the administrator from shaking her daughter’s hand .

In a temporary order filed Monday, a Dane County Circuit Court commissioner ordered Matthew Eddy to have no contact with Baraboo Superintendent Rainey Briggs pending a hearing scheduled for June 14.

In his petition for the order, Briggs says Eddy “quickly approached the stage and put both hands on me, pushing me away, stating ‘you’re not going to touch my f– —- girl’ “. Briggs said he then “created space” and told Eddy not to touch him again, according to the petition. Briggs said Eddy then began “pushing and forcing” him and reached out with his hands to push Eddy away.

Baraboo High School Superintendent Rainey Briggs, left, is pushed away from the stage by Matthew Eddy during a May 31 commencement ceremony.Max TV – Baraboo via YouTube

As his daughter walked across the stage at Baraboo High School’s graduation Friday night, Eddy walked up the stairs to the stage and pulled Briggs away, preventing him from shaking his daughter’s hand, the video shows of the incident. Briggs can be heard telling Eddy, “You better get off me, man.” Get away from me, bro,” while another person says, “I don’t want her to touch him.” »

It’s clear what started the altercation. Briggs and Eddy did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday and Thursday.

Baraboo High School Principal Steve Considine was also on stage with Briggs, as were four members of the school board, including its president, Kevin Vodak, who is the subject of a recall effort by citizens who say that he, among other things, mismanaged taxpayers’ money. Eddy, 49, of North Freedom, only faced Briggs.

A Baraboo police officer working as a school resource officer, along with two off-duty officers, jumped on stage and escorted Eddy out of the gymnasium. The school resource officer investigated and Eddy received a citation for disorderly conduct, police said. That charge was referred to the Sauk County Prosecutor’s Office, which said the matter is under investigation.

Hailey Wagner, a spokeswoman for the school district, said it takes this “unfortunate event” seriously and is working closely with local law enforcement to ensure a thorough investigation.

The Baraboo School Board said in a statement that it does not tolerate “threatening, intimidating or physically hurtful behavior against anyone in our school district community.”

District employees should not fear for their physical safety while performing their duties or at any other time, the school board also said.

“The fact that this adult felt encouraged to behave in this manner in front of hundreds of students and other adults should deeply trouble us all; this type of behavior will not be tolerated,” the school board said, adding that it “condemns such acts and calls on the community to take a stand and denounce this type of behavior that threatens the fabric of our democracy.”

Briggs, 46, a Verona resident, was named superintendent of the Baraboo School District in July 2021 after working as director of elementary education in another district. He also worked as a cultural liaison, teacher and principal, according to his biography.

Baraboo High School gained national attention in November 2018 after a photo of about 50 male students appearing to hold up a Nazi salute went viral. The group, most of whom appeared to be white, were seen smiling with their right arms extended in the air, reminiscent of the famous “Sieg heil” salute.

The district’s superintendent at the time condemned the photo, saying in a letter sent to parents: “If the gesture is what it appears to be, the district will pursue all available and appropriate actions, including legal, to resolve the issue. »

Following an investigation involving local police, the school district announced that the students would not be punished.

Then-superintendent Lori Mueller wrote in a letter to parents that the district was “unable to punish students for their actions” because of their First Amendment rights, according to a letter obtained by Baraboo News Republic . Mueller also said the district would focus on working with students to use “restorative practices” to repair the damage caused to relationships by the photo, the outlet reported.

According to the most recent census data, the town of Baraboo has a population of fewer than 13,000. About 90.4% of its population is white.

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