Skip to main content

Cook County Schools investigating after assistant principal displays "joke" Gadsden flag during announcements

"My apologies to anybody who was offended by that part of the snake that was on that comic and it's been taken down," Cook County Schools Assistant Principal Mitch Dorr said the next day.

The Cook County School District is investigating after it received " a number of complaints" about the district's morning announcements on Jan. 14, which apparently featured a comic version of the Gadsden flag that referenced face masks. 

The district did not elaborate on what the complaints were about, only that something in the morning announcements "caused a great deal of concern and discomfort in our community," according to a letter to the district community from Acting Superintendent Megan Myers.

The morning announcements for Jan. 14 have been removed from the district's YouTube page, but Cook County Schools Assistant Principal Mitch Dorr did address the incident during his announcements the next day (Jan. 15). 

Dorr said the Gadsden flag, in the form of a comic – "it had a little bit of a joke context," he said – was posted on his bulletin board, which was visible during the morning announcements on Jan. 14 (it had been removed by Jan. 15).

He didn't say what the joke was, but according to a Facebook post found by the Duluth News Tribune, the Gadsden flag comic that was on Dorr's bulletin board depicted the snake wearing a mask with the phrase "Don't let the mask become a muzzle." Those who oppose masking during the COVID-19 pandemic have compared masks to muzzles, the Washington Post said

"As some of you know, I taught history," Dorr said during the announcements. "And part of the Gadsden flag was invented during the Revolutionary War and it was pressuring colonies to join together to fight the British."

The Gadsden flag features a rattlesnake on a yellow background and the words "don't tread on me." More than a decade ago, the Tea Party movement began using the Gadsden flag as a protest symbol. More recently, it's been used by far-right groups, including during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. 

"So, I didn't realize some of the more present-day context would come out in that, so I totally apologize to anybody who took that wrong, that flag wrong, I know that it's got more negative connotations in today's era, in today's world, and that was certainly not my intention," he added "... Definitely didn't even think of that kind of context in any way. My apologies to anybody who was offended by that part of the snake that was on that comic and it's been taken down."

Meanwhile, the district is conducting an investigation into the incident. 

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

"Our school district is currently having an independent investigation conducted into this matter. Due to the pending investigation and data privacy issues involved, the school district cannot comment further on the investigation at this time," the letter states. 

The district would not confirm any other details about the incident to the Duluth News Tribune or whether Dorr has been placed on administrative leave.

Next Up


Court: Ex-cop who fatally shot Philando Castile had teaching license wrongfully denied

The Court of Appeals sent the application back for reconsideration by the board.

Screen Shot 2022-11-29 at 7.26.15 AM

Multiple crashes, spinouts in Twin Cities as snow falls Tuesday morning

The metro could get up to six inches of snow throughout the day.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 5.39.25 PM

Couple critically injured in Kanabec County home attack identified

Jeff and Becky Ponto were found critically injured in their home Sunday morning.

police tape

Assault charges filed against Red Wing man shot by deputy

The reportedly suicidal man crashed his van into a power pole before he allegedly began chasing a deputy at the scene.

Winter scene snow storm snowfall highway driving traffic - Joe Nelson Feb 2022 4

Winter storm warning for Twin Cities: 6+ inches possible

The heaviest snow could move through the Twin Cities.

police lights

Carver man charged after standoff with police in Prior Lake

The man had been fleeing from police when he allegedly broke into a home and the standoff ensued.


41-year-old Sherburne County man killed after crashing car into ditch

The crash occurred Sunday night in Palmer Township.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 4.01.10 PM

Around 200 rescued after ice breaks free on Upper Red Lake

Red Lake — both Upper and Lower — is the largest freshwater lake in the state.

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 9.38.30 AM

St. Paul featured on Hallmark Channel's 'Christmas Cam' livestream

Downtown's dazzling display can be viewed from anywhere in the world.



A few Minnesota newspapers get new owners

Papers in southeastern and northeastern Minnesota have been sold.

Grand Marais

Cook County warns cabin owners: Stay at your first home

The North Shore county is worried about its healthcare capacity.

classroom mask

Rochester schools may change mask rules to require them for all

The school board will consider the proposal, as well as others, on Aug. 17.

Mark Pavelich

'Miracle on Ice' player ruled unfit to stand trial in MN assault case

Mark Pavelich was charged with multiple counts of felony assault in August.

masks, schools

List of Twin Cities school districts with, without, and undecided on mask mandate

19 metro-area districts will require masks; 11 won't require masks; 16 are undecided.

cook county sheriff's office rescue boat

Man rescued after kayak capsizes on northern Minnesota lake

The man had hopped into a kayak to retrieve a boat that had gotten loose.

Chanhassen High School principal resigns after child porn arrest, charges

The former principal is accused of seven felony counts of child pornography possession.

Pexels - classroom kid teacher student raise hand - crop

MN medical groups urge K-12 schools to adopt mask requirement for all

They say it will help protect other students who can't get vaccinated or are at risk.