California High School Teacher Comes Under Fire After Displaying Multiple Nazi Flags Inside The Classroom

The San Juan Unified School District launched a “full investigation” after reports of a teacher displaying multiple Nazi flags inside their classroom.

According to The Sacramento Bee, the information came to light when an anonymous Instagram account named “change4rio” posted a picture of the flags from Nazi Germany allegedly handing in a classroom at Rio Americano High School. The author encouraged students to contact district officials about the flags.

“TRIGGER WARNING,” the caption stated in all caps. “PLEASE SPREAD THIS AROUND AND GET THE WORD OUT! THIS IS ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE! RIO HAS A HISTORY OF NOT DOING ANYTHING ABOUT THINGS LIKE THIS SO WE NEED AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE TO KNOW!”

“This is incredibly harmful to minority students. Sw@stikas [sic] are very triggering for a lot of people. Even if it is for history multiple students have said it makes them extremely uncomfortable,” an image in the post stated. “Please contact the district and let them know of this. Hanging a sw@stika [sic] in a classroom is unaccpetable under any circumstances.”

The district, the principal, and the Instagram user indicated the flags were removed last week.

The district released a statement saying that they condemn hate:

Last week a teacher at Rio Americano High School had several flags from Germany on display in their class, including a flag from Nazi Germany. The Nazi flag is a long-standing symbol of hate and does not represent the culture and values of our school or our district. The symbolism of these flags is deplorable and we denounce it – hate has no place at our schools.

A full investigation is currently underway into this incident. We are looking into why the teacher thought the flags were appropriate to use and ensuring both the instructor involved and others understand that this is not an acceptable way to teach any curriculum. The flags were removed from the classroom last week.

We, as a district, stand for respect and inclusion. San Juan Unified is a place where all are free to learn in a safe and welcoming environment. This is an opportunity for continued education and the building of a more inclusive climate and culture throughout the district.

A letter similar to the district’s statement was sent to parents about the incident. One parent indicated this wasn’t the first time this particular teacher had the Nazi flags on display, per a report from ABC 10:

Mary Kelly was one of the people who got the letter. Her daughter attends Rio Americano and has friends who have taken a class with the teacher. Kelly disputes the statement by the district that the incident happened “last week.” She said that the flags have been put up before and caused commotion only to be taken down and put back up the next year by the teacher.

“I don’t think that that makes the students in his classroom feel like he cares about them and that he actually cares that they learn anything. As an educator, your classroom should reflect a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere,” Kelly said.

As a teacher herself, she said that she has never felt the need to display a permanent fixture of a Nazi flag in her classroom.

Kelly’s husband, Rabbi Matt Friedman, took issue with the flag being displayed permanently. It would be different, Friedman said, if the flags were brought in for a short time while a lesson was occurring.

Both the district and the principal have indicated the matter is being treated as a potential hate crime.

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