School district in Virginia apologizes for controversial logo printed on T-shirts
HANOVER, Va. (WWBT/Gray News) – A school district in Virginia is apologizing for a logo that appeared on a T-shirt during a conference this week after community members said it resembled a swastika.
The shirt from Hanover County Public Schools (HCPS) made its rounds on social media.
According to superintendent Michael Gill, the design was first unveiled at a professional learning conference for faculty and staff and printed on shirts for them to wear.
Shortly after its unveiling, an image of the logo was posted on social media, where it went viral and was immediately and nearly universally panned.
Current and former students said they are surprised no one in charge of making the shirts noticed the similarity to a swastika until now.
“It’s clear on what it is and what it resembles, so I don’t know how it could get this far without people claiming they don’t know what it is,” senior James Poole said. “But I’m also not surprised. It got that far judging by, you know, just the county that we’re in.”
While many say the symbol bears a striking similarity to the infamous Nazi symbol, the school district said the teacher who designed the logo was trying to represent four hands and arms grasping together as a symbol of unity.
“I don’t know how you couldn’t see the symbol that’s there,” former HCPS student Gabbie Dunn said. “I’m glad they released an apology, but I don’t know that an apology is enough given the fact that they released the shirt.”
Early Wednesday morning, the school district announced that it would no longer distribute the T-shirts that include the logo and that it was working to remove the logo from all conference materials.
“While we are confident that the logo was created without any ill-intent, we understand that this has deeply upset members of our staff and community who see the logo as resembling a swastika,” Gill said in an online statement.
In response, the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond said it appreciated the swift response from the superintendent, but CEO Daniel Staffenberg said he believes conversations must be had with the school for real healing to occur.
“I understand why people are angry. I, myself, am angry,” Staffenberg said. “I hope this was a simple oversight because the resemblance, while it’s not an official swastika, the resemblance would have raised a flag for many.”
In a statement, the Hanover NAACP also said they appreciate the school’s quick response but noted that the creation of the logo in the first place highlights the need for Hanover Schools to hire a diversity director to ensure things like this never happen again.
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