NC high school cheer team 'on probation' after holding pro-Trump banner at game

NC high school cheer team 'on probation' after holding pro-Trump banner at game
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Cheerleaders at a North Carolina high school were placed "on probation" after holding a pro-Trump banner at a football game, The Charlotte Observer reported on Monday.

A photo of the teenagers spread on social media, sparking controversy and prompting the North Carolina High School Athletic Association to put the North Stanly High School squad on probation for the rest of the season, the Observer reported.

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The athletic association has not defined the terms of the probation, and the Stanly County School District has said the squad is expected to continue cheering, according to the Observer.

"The focus of Friday night football games should be on our students — the players, cheerleaders, band members — the focus should not be on politics," school district officials said in a release obtained by the Observer. "For this reason, we are hopeful the situation will resolve, and our student athletes can have a successful fall season."

The photo shows the cheerleading squad holding a sign that reads "Trump 2020: Make America Great Again" on a football field on Aug. 30, the day of a game.

The school district released a statement after the posted photo gained attention. 

"We are currently investigating this matter but as of this morning we have determined this was not an act planned or endorsed by the school or its staff," the statement said. "A student attending the event brought the flag into the game, which was not present when entering the gate."

The statement went on to say the district "never makes political campaign endorsements" but "respects the rights of its students, staff, and visitors to express their opinions in a respectful manner on their own time."

Community members have rallied around the cheering team and scheduled an event Friday to protest the decision to put the teenagers on probation.