MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — The rollout of a new logo for an Atlanta area elementary school has been paused after parents noted similarities to a Nazi symbol, though a school district said the design was based on a U.S. Army colonel’s eagle wings.
The Cobb County School District said Tuesday that it has halted distribution of the new logo for East Side Elementary School in Marietta after it drew condemnation on social media.
The logo depicts an eagle, the school’s mascot, over the school’s initials ES.
Georgia’s second-largest school district announced plans to delay the new logo while “immediately reviewing needed changes.”
“We understand and strongly agree that similarities to Nazi symbolism are unacceptable, although this design was based on the U.S. Army colonel’s eagle wings, stakeholder input has been and continues to be important to our schools,” the statement said.
A message to parents on Monday notified them of the new logo. saying it was chosen to “represent the eagle soaring into excellence and to honor the history of our great school.” The district has been working with all schools to create logos, the message added.
The design drew a swift backlash on social media.
“I don’t want to see my kids wearing that on their shirt,” Mike Albuquerque, the father of two students who will attend the school next year, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Really it’s a big oversight of the county and everyone involved in the process who reviewed that, to not call out the fact that this looks like Nazi iconography. Or maybe, who knows, somebody did call it out and it wasn’t heard.”
East Side Elementary is across the street from a synagogue.
Rbbi Amanda Flaks told WSB-TV she had to look twice at the design.
“I thought, ‘That looks off. That makes me uncomfortable,’ and I came back to it a few times and I felt more and more uncomfortable and sick each time,” Flaks said, noting the war eagle was used by the Nazis in World World II and currently by other neo-Fascist and neo-Nazi sympathizer groups.
Flaks said she contacted the school and got an apology from the principal, along with pictures of what the school district said the logo was based on.
She said she was hurt on many levels, adding, “my children are great grandchildren of someone who fled the Nazi regime in Germany and survived the Holocaust.”
Stacy Efart said that as a parent and a member of the Jewish community, she was outraged.
“I want to see the logo not only taken away I want a direct apology to our community. Not just the Jewish community but the entire community,” Efart said.
The logo controversy is only the latest related to antisemitism in Cobb schools. Last month, a group began posting hot pink billboards around metro Atlanta challenging people to fight antisemitism, partly in response to incidents last school year.
Graffiti depicting swastikas was found in two Cobb County high schools during the Jewish High Holidays. Several Cobb middle school students were disciplined earlier this year for sharing antisemitic imagery on social media.
Antisemitic incidents in Georgia more than doubled between 2020 and 2021, according to a report by the Anti-Defamation League. Georgia tallied 49 incidents in 2021.
“This is not the first time Cobb County schools have been tone-deaf to antisemitism,” said Dov Wilker, director of the American Jewish Committee Atlanta region, in a statement about the logo design. “Pretending that antisemitism doesn’t exist won’t make it go away. The children who attend Cobb County schools — and their families — deserve better.”