A Facebook post showing a Nazi flag hanging in a classroom window of Gov. Thomas Johnson High School went viral over the weekend, prompting outrage on social media and apologies from school officials.
The picture, originally taken by Nicole Hopkins, was shared by another user on Facebook and drew almost 400 shares and over 700 comments, many expressing outrage that the flag was displayed so prominently in a public and school setting.
Hopkins said she was driving into the high school’s parking lot to attend a basketball game Friday night when she saw the flag in the window.
“I looked at it and I thought wait a minute. I looked at it again, I looked at my boyfriend and I was like ‘is that what I think it is?”, Hopkins said.
She then snapped a picture because she felt no one would believe the flag had been there without proof.
According to an email sent out via FindOutFirst by TJ High principal Daniel Lippy, the flag is used in a World War II class and was left hanging in the classroom.
“We immediately responded to the concern and removed the flag,” Lippy said in the email. “We share the concerns in the community about the feelings of hatred and intolerance that the flag represents. We pride ourselves on accepting all members of our society and this message is central to who we are as Patriots.”
The email went on to say that the photo captured “certainly gives a different impression” and that the school sends apologies to the community.
“We have taken steps to ensure that this never occurs again,” Lippy said in the email.
Hopkins said she understands and doesn’t mind that the flag was used as part of classroom instruction but is confused by its placement in the window.
The viral Facebook post drew comments from Frederick County Board of Education President Brad Young and Vice President Jay Mason.
In a Facebook comment, Young said he was notified of the flag around 8 p.m. Friday night and immediately contacted school administration to make sure it was taken down. Young wrote that he was also told the flag was being used as part of a WWII class.
“That being said, it should have been taken down after the lesson and was in very poor taste to have been left up in a window,” Young wrote. “I know it will be used as a learning lesson for staff and students. I on behalf of the school apologize for it happening.”
Mason shared similar thoughts.
In multiple Facebook comments he wrote, “The flag being left on display was not a good idea at all and unacceptable...we will use it as a teachable moment for staff and students.”
It is still unclear why the flag was left hanging in the window and Young said that point will be investigated once school reconvenes on Monday.
School Superintendent Terry Alban said in a statement the incident does not reflect the values of Frederick County Public Schools.
“We sincerely regret the hurt it caused,” Alban said. “It will be important to understand what happened and I will be following up with staff...so that we can take appropriate action.”