By Rebecca Gaunt
East Side Elementary School’s new logo, revealed to parents in an email Monday, has members of the community furious.
It contains an eagle and the initials for the school and is drawing comparisons to the Nazi Eagle, a symbol that has also been adopted by white supremacy groups.
Though the American Defamation League notes that the eagle is a common symbol, frequently used with no relation to the Nazi Eagle, the details of the one in the logo drew immediate, negative reactions from many and quickly spread on social media.
Kristin Rodriguez has a nephew that attends a Cobb high school. She wrote, “The fact they put this out there just days after approving that random personnel can apply to carry weapons in schools is not cool. If they can intentionally “miss” the imagery in this logo, how can they be trusted to truly vet the skills of the person asking to carry a weapon?”
The original email from Principal Maria Clark states that “CCSD has been working with all schools over the past few years to redesign and formalize school logos. East Side was very excited to undergo this process for the spring/summer and we are excited to introduce our new logos and badges to you. The new logos and badges were chosen to represent the Eagle soaring into excellence and to honor the great history of our school.”
After community members reached out, a follow up email from Clark said, “The school is aware of concerns about these logos, and therefore we have paused to consider that feedback. We will be immediately reviewing the logos to determine needed changes.”
The district also responded on a post about the logo in the Cobb County School District Unofficial Community Facebook group:
“We recently introduced a new set of logos for East Side. The school is aware of concerns about these logos, and therefore, we have paused to consider that feedback. We will be immediately reviewing the logos to determine needed changes. Stakeholder input has been, and continues to be, important to our school, and we appreciate those who took the time to share their thoughts.”
Parent Stacy Efrat tweeted, “Our Jewish family has always felt loved and welcome there…I think (& hope) this was an honest oversight.”
Parents want to know more. How did this logo not raise any red flags before being approved? Who approved it?
Rabbi Amanda Flaks lives in Marietta and is a hospital chaplain. She told the Courier, “Initially, the logo made me feel uncomfortable but I’m not quick to jump to anti-semitism as the root of things, as I work with interfaith communities primarily and try to see things through a wide lens at first glance… but the more I looked at it, I felt sick. I brought in my husband, the grandson of a survivor of the Nazi regime, to look at the logo, and immediately he went white as a sheet. He was speechless for a moment and then asked how the school could possibly use an image so reminiscent of the Nazi War Eagle as the school logo? I would like the school district to apologize and remove the logo. Their response last night demonstrates to me that an apology is unlikely.”
East Side Elementary School in Marietta is located across the street from the Etz Chaim Synagogue.
Hershel Greenblat, a Holocaust survivor, addressed the school board and Superintendent Chris Ragsdale last October. He requested the reinstatement of the program and invited the board members and superintendent to tour the Holocaust exhibit at the Breman Museum in Atlanta with him. Board members Leroy “Tre” Hutchins and Charisse Davis joined Greenblat in December.
In February, a Cobb middle school student was photographed wearing a swastika at school.
The district has not responded to questions from the Courier.