HERNANDO, Miss. — It's a symbol not unfamiliar to Hernando High School students, but the Confederate flag is sparking new controversy after multiple students chose to wear it to class Tuesday.
"I've seen him wearing it and I was, like, ‘I can’t believe they’re letting him wear that in the building and stuff like that," said former student Jake Johnson.
Evangela Cole snapped pictures of at least two students in hoodies plastered with the flag as she was dropping her son off Tuesday morning.
"It's just like a gang. If it’s multiple children in the same outfit and the same mindset, that could be intimidating for any child," said Cole.
Cole said she complained to the principal, but said that's about as far as it went.
"The principal even said other parents have reported it as well, but there’s nothing that he can do," said Cole.
DeSoto County Schools sent WREG a statement that read, "Local principals have the discretion to make all decisions on their campus regarding dress code. The principal reserves the right to restrict clothing that causes a disruption on his/her campus."
Some say the Confederate flag does not constitute a disruption.
"I don't think it’s a distraction for the community or nothing like that. I think the people just being ignorant," said Nathaniel Williams.
But others are deeply troubled by what they regard as a symbol of hate, including Destiny Vallin, who said she knows one of the students in the photo.
"I think he might be playing, like, kind of joking with it, but not a lot of people take it as a joke," said Vallin.
Cole doesn't consider it a joke and she wishes others would take it more seriously.
"I feel that my complaints are just falling on deaf ears," said Cole.
Johnson told WREG students at Hernando High School got into trouble last year for flying Confederate flags on their trucks, but it remains unclear if the students wearing Confederate hoodies will face any disciplinary action.
Multiple students WREG spoke with said they didn't believe it was the intent of the students pictured in the photos to intimidate others or spread hate.