Principal Warren Bell (far right) and students
WRIC ABC 8 NEWS SCREENSHOT

A Lawrenceville, Va., high school is trying to protect its principal against accusations that he was throwing up gang signs in a photo taken with students, WRIC reports.

Brunswick High School Principal Warren Bell can be seen in the sharply criticized photo, making a hand gesture while standing next to five students, who were also gesturing.

Advertisement

But according to the report, Bell was actually trying to signal to the teenagers that he wanted them to settle down because apparently they were loudly joking around in the school restroom, Dora Wynn, the superintendent, told the news station.

"When the principal saw that the students were posing and making inappropriate gestures, he motioned for the students to stop what they were doing," she said in a statement. "A student snapped a picture just as the principal was gesturing for the students to stop. That picture is construed by some as showing the principal was engaging in inappropriate conduct when, in reality, he was attempting to stop the students from continuing their inappropriate behavior."

Nevertheless, some parents think the principal exercised poor judgment.

"I am really appalled," one parent, Shirley Penn, told ABC. "Seeing is believing. He is in the picture, and from what I can make out, he's making signs."

Advertisement

The students in the photo insist that they did not know that Bell was even there until after the photo was snapped. They also say the photo has been misinterpreted. "We ain't no gang," one student in the photo, Geonni Stockton, told ABC. "We were just posing for the picture. It surprised me how much people saw it, how people took it, much views it got and stuff, how many people took it the wrong way."

Read more at WRIC ABC 8 News.