STANLY COUNTY, N.C. - Police presence has increased at North Stanley High School ahead of what's expected to be a large political showing at Friday night's football game.
It comes after the North Stanly High School cheer squad was placed on probation for displaying signs supporting President Donald Trump at a local football game last month.
Just three days ago, U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (NC-08), whose district includes Stanly County, sent the NC High School Athletic Association a letter questioning the probation of North Stanly High School cheerleaders after they were pictured with other students holding the political sign.
"The North Stanly High School cheerleaders have been wrongly put on probation by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association for the rest of the football season because of holding up a Trump banner before a home game on 8-30-2019. Please come out and help me show the school and the NCHSAA that freedom of speech is not dead. Please bring all your Trump and MAGA gear and lets throw our support behind the North Stanly High School cheerleaders," a support page for the squad said on Facebook.
North Stanley High School said a student attending the game brought the Trump flag back inside, and the picture was taken before the game started, and Stanly County superintendent Dr. Jeff James says the team was told not to do it again.
The NCHSAA said the probation was not a punishment, but a "notice of behavior or action that is against NCHSAA Handbook Policy or contrary to expectations of sportsmanship and proper behavior." They said if the behavior continues, fines or suspensions could be implemented.
The Stanly County School system says their own investigation into the picture discovered no ill intent and said that while students are free to express themselves in a respectful manner, politics are to stay out of school events.
"Please call the Commissioner (Que Tucker ) 919-240-7375 of the NCHSAA and let her know that the 1st amendment of these girls has been striped by putting the cheerleaders on probation," the support group said on Facebook.
Friday night's football game is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at North Stanly High School in New London, North Carolina. About 210 people confirmed they will be attending. More than 1,000 said they're interested in going.