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'White' Sign Left Atop Water Fountain 'Not Intentional,' Piedmont High Principal Says

A sign placed over a Union County high school drinking fountain that sparked accusations of racism was left over from a cheerleading session, a district spokesperson said Wednesday.

A sign left atop a water fountain at Piedmont High School.
Piedmont High School
A sign left atop a water fountain at Piedmont High School.

Tahira Stalberte said cheerleaders at Piedmont High School in Monroe had been using signs with the school colors, blue and white, written on them. A sign with the word “white” was left outside the gym, she says, and someone put it over a drinking fountain.

Students then circulated a photo on social media.

Principal Dylan Stamey emailed parents to say the placement was unintentional, and, “We apologize if anyone was offended.”

Some families told WSOC-TV the photo evoked images of a time when drinking fountains were segregated.

Stamey's full email statement to parents: "Good evening, this is Principal Stamey with an important message for Piedmont High School parents. We are aware of a picture about our school that is circulating on social media. I want to be clear about the facts. During practice, a cheer sign was left just outside the gym on the floor and it was picked up and placed on a water fountain. We have investigated this matter and concluded that the placement was not intentional. We apologize if anyone was offended. Thank you for your partnership with Piedmont High School. Have a good evening."

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.