Controversy ignites over Carolina Forest High School homecoming banner

(Facebook screenshot)

Homecoming is a big deal for high school athletes, but one banner found hanging in Carolina Forest High School's cafeteria put this weekend's match up in the spotlight a few days early.

The red banner celebrates the opponents, time, admission fee, and then ends with "We'll leave you in a trail of tears!!!"

The phrases seems to be a reference to the historical forced march the U.S. government made indigenous nations participate in in the 1800s.

According to the Cherokee Nation website, that march killed approximately 4,000 people.

On Facebook, the sign drew some negative attention.

"Nobody in the chain of events had the foresight to say maybe we shouldn't use the Trail of Tears this way," said Ian Currie. He posted the photo, which he said one of the students he mentors took.

Currie said his step-daughter is of Cherokee descent.

He said school administrators pulled the banner down quickly after he contacted them, but he doesn't think they're holding themselves and the faculty accountable.

"Whoever was responsible for the final decision that gave the go-ahead and the green light for the banner to go up, I feel like they owe some sort of apology," he said.

Currie said he talked to some students, who told him that the banners are made in a class and approved by a faculty member.

A school district spokeswoman said she didn't know what the approval process was, but offered the following statement in response:

We regret the banner was created, but the incident was addressed on Saturday and it was removed at that time from the cafeteria. We have also addressed the situation and are confident that the persons responsible for the banner at no time intended for it to be offensive. The student body at Carolina Forest High School (CFHS) is extremely diverse and comes from many different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Teenagers, as well as adults, act sometimes without first thinking about how their actions may impact others. CFHS is an educational institution and will use this situation as a learning opportunity. At no time would the administration want a student or staff member to feel as if he/she is in an intolerant environment.
Again, we want everyone to know the situation has been addressed and the banner has been removed from the cafeteria. The District welcomes visitors to our schools to experience the learning and working environment that is created each day for our students and staff.

ABC15 also reached out to the Carolina Forest High School Principal Gaye Driggers to verify that the banner was approved by a faculty member.

We also asked if this incident would be used as a teachable moment.

"I have addressed all parties involved and, yes, this will be used as a teachable moment," Driggers wrote back.

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