Parent concerned after rock painted with political message outside school, polling place

Parent concerned after rock painted with political message outside school, polling place

HARRISBURG, NC (WBTV) - A parent of middle school student in Cabarrus County says he's concerned after he found a political message painted on the school's rock the morning after the school was used as a polling location.

The rock outside of Hickory Ridge Middle School, in Harrisburg, was painted red, white and blue with the message "Trump 4 President 2016." Parents contacted WBTV Wednesday morning after seeing the rock.

"I was stunned to see the school spirit rock painted with this message on it," one parent wrote. "If the schools are non-partisan why was this allowed to be presented on school grounds?"

HRMS is listed as polling location 01-04 and has a buffer zone of 50 feet from the entrance of the polling place that is supposed to be labeled with a "No Electioneering Beyond this Point" sign, yellow tape, and a chalk line, according to the Cabarrus County website.

The rock is placed along Raging Ridge Road, near the turn-in to the school. There is a baseball field, track and school bus lot between the rock and the entrance of the school.

The Cabarrus County Board of Elections says that would fall outside of the 50 foot buffer zone for the polling location. When questioned about the rock Wednesday morning, BOE officials say it was the first they'd heard about the rock.

While they fielded other voter complaints, there weren't any about the school's rock. State board of elections officials say they had not received any complaints from voters about the rock either.

School officials say the administration did not give anyone permission to use the school rock to share political information. They say the rock was not painted with a political message when administrators left the building late Tuesday afternoon.

"We do not know who painted the rock or when it happened," school officials said. "Once school officials saw the rock this morning, they instructed a custodian to remove the message from the rock."

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