HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Hanover School district is facing backlash after printing T-shirts and other materials with a logo resembling a swastika.
A spokesperson for the district said the shirts were handed out at the Unified Professional Learning conference held at Hanover High School this week.
“It’s disheartening,” said one Hanover parent, who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation. “It is so blatantly insensitive and completely offensive.”
The situation gained steam Tuesday night after someone anonymously posted a picture of the shirt to social media, asking if the logo resembled ‘something bad.’ Hundreds of people have since shared the photo and added their own commentary.
One Twitter user wrote: “There is no way someone can look at this logo and not see a swastika. Who are these people?”
Someone else added, “It’s in really bad taste. I wouldn’t even want it in my trash.”
As outrage poured in, Hanover Public Schools Superintendent Michael Gill issued an apology explaining about the situation. He claimed the logo was designed by a Hanover teacher, and was intended to “represent four hands and arms grasping together — a symbol of unity for our all-county professional learning conference. Nothing more.”
His statement continued, “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. We have stopped distributing the t-shirts that include the logo, and we are working to remove it from all conference materials.”
Still, 8News spoke to parents who believe the apology fell short. They want leaders to take more accountability.
“For people to think it’s okay to promote that symbol shows either an ignorance of that knowledge, or it shows that they’re willfully saying they’re okay with what happened,” one parent said.
Another mother questioned how the design was approved, “They didn’t really apologize, they threw a teacher under the bus and said the teacher did it, but how many other people had to review this?”
In a letter sent on Wednesday afternoon, the Hanover NAACP said they are troubled by the use of the logo and that this incident is another example of “the urgent need for required training and professional development in diversity, equity, and inclusion for all employees of Hanover Public Schools.”
8news reached out to the Superintendent for an on-camera interview, but has not heard back.
Read the Superintendent Gill’s full statement about the logo below:
Check out the Hanover County NAACP’s full statement below: