Racist ‘air-gram’ broadcast during NC marching band event condemned by superintendent

A North Carolina school leader issued a public apology this week after a racist message was delivered over a PA system at a high school marching band showcase.

Cabarrus County Schools Superintendent John Kopicki, speaking at a school board meeting on Monday, read from a written statement: “I would like to personally apologize to all those in attendance on Saturday who were disgusted by this senseless act of racism. I would also like to apologize to the host school, Mount Pleasant High School.”

The Charlotte Observer has been unable to confirm exactly what was written then broadcast from the derogatory message.

The “air-gram” — often used as a fundraiser in conjunction with marching band competitions or shows — was written by a student and directed at another student, officials say. It included racist remarks or tropes, according to Kopicki and attendees who posted on social media after the event.

Air-grams typically are short personal messages of celebration or shout-outs from students, parents or teachers and are read as a marching band leaves the field after a performance. Usually a person pays a small amount to send an air-gram. The Cabarrus County Preview of Bands, an annual event showcasing area high school marching bands, was held Saturday at Mount Pleasant High School.

“These air-grams are then read over the public address system as the marching band exits the field. Unfortunately, one of these air-grams, which was directed from one of our students to another, included racist remarks and phrases that have no place in either our schools or our society,” Kopicki said on Monday night.

He added that the student responsible for the air-gram had been “dealt with” by school administrators.

It’s unclear who read the message from the sound booth at the event, and it’s unclear whether organizers vet air-grams prior to reading them over the speaker.

“Cabarrus County Schools does not condone nor tolerate this type of behavior or language,” Kopicki said. “.... Mount Pleasant is a supportive, inclusive community who welcomed our students and families to their campus on Saturday for a day to celebrate the performing arts. This act in no way reflects the values of Mt. Pleasant High School or the Mt. Pleasant community.”