HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- Hanover County Schools has responded to criticism over a logo placed on a t-shirt handed out to staff during a Unified Professional Learning Conference this week. The logo, which resembled a swastika to some people who saw it, drew swift criticism.
Photos of the shirt posted by Hanover Schools on social media were removed after criticism filled the comment section.
"We are deeply sorry for this mistake and for the emotions that the logo has evoked by its semblance to a swastika and, by extension, to the atrocities that were committed under its banner. Unquestionably, we condemn anything associated with the Nazi regime in the strongest manner possible," Hanover Schools' Superintendent Dr. Michael Gill wrote in a statement Wednesday morning.
Gill said the logo was designed by a Hanover teacher.
"One of our teachers designed the logo intending for it to represent four hands and arms grasping together – a symbol of unity for our all-county professional learning conference. Nothing more," the statement read "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."
Dr. Rachel Levy, a public school advocate, Hanover parent, and candidate running to represent parts of Hanover in the Virginia House of Delegates in 2023, said she believed the apology fell short.
Yes, I have seen the Hanover Schools new swastika-like logo.— Rachel for Delegate (@RachelAnneLevy) August 3, 2022
Let's hope an explanation and apology comes soon. pic.twitter.com/GaI6yShIm7
"Note that Superintendent Mike Gill blames a teacher. Unacceptable," she posted on Twitter. "And typical -- what I mean when I say we have unaccountable leadership."
The Jewish Community Federation of Richmond issued a statement in which it said it appreciated the response from Dr. Gill.
"[We] look forward to continuing to work with the Hanover County Public School system as we all strive for an inclusive education space & community," the statement read.
The Hanover Schools t-shirt logo apology comes after the president of the Hanover Branch of the NAACP spoke out against a published comment made by a county school leader calling her an "angry African-American lady."
Hanover NAACP President Pat Hunter-Jordan authored an open letter on behalf of the organization criticizing the direction of the Hanover School Board and accused the most recent member, John Redd of the Mechanicsville District, of being unable to represent a diverse population of students across the school division.
"As a school division, we are committed to inclusion and ensuring that all students, faculty, staff, and community members feel welcome, safe, and secure in our schools," the superintendent's statement about the t-shirt logo continued. "We are thankful for our staff and are proud of the diverse learning opportunities that this Unified Professional Learning Conference has provided for them. We truly regret this error and are sorry that it has distracted from the great work that is being accomplished through this conference and throughout the school division, which will help us to continue to uphold our longstanding Tradition of Excellence by supporting all students and their unique needs."
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