FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM) — Frederick County Public Schools is looking into an incident in which a Nazi flag was clearly seen hanging through a classroom window.
On Friday evening, dozens gathered at Governor Thomas Johnson High School (GTJHS) for a highly-anticipated basketball game against rival Frederick High.
That’s where Nicole Hopkins says she was shocked to see a Nazi flag hanging from inside a classroom in clear sight and snapped a photo.
“It shocked me for sure. I didn’t feel offended. I was more puzzled and shocked,” Hopkins said in a message.
“This flag was in a window that was prominently visible by people visiting the school and didn’t understand the context in which it was being used and that was very unfortunate,” explained president of the Frederick County Public Schools Board of Education, Brad Young, “The flag certainly doesn’t represent the values and beliefs of Frederick County Public Schools.”
The flag was inside a World War II history classroom, Young explained. The teacher has used the flag as a learning prop in past years, but moving forward there may be changes.
“We’ll use this as a learning experience to make sure that when [teachers] are using those kinds of props that they’re in the proper context,” Young said.
The county public school system released a statement on Saturday to express apologies for the incident and shared that the flag was taken down.
“We understand the seriousness of this matter and care deeply for our community’s immediate recovery and belief in FCPS as a school system which celebrates diversity,” the statement read.
The post garnered more than 400 comments and was shared more than 80 times.
In a message, Hopkins said “regardless of the class, there [are] several ways to teach about the flag. No need for a full-size replica anywhere in the classroom.”
But former GTJHS student, Justin Wages, says the environment created by this history teacher helped him focus on the World War II lessons.
“The teacher was really great with immersion and being able to actually make it feel as if you were in the time period,” Wages explained, “Just being that total history teacher instead of having you read from the textbook.”
According to a spokesperson for the county public school system, the principal at GTJHS will be conducting due diligence and speaking with the teacher of the classroom involved and then reporting to the superintendent.
“The question is how it ended up in that window and if there was any ill-intent by a student or anybody that might have made sure that it was visible by the public that particular evening,” Young explained.