Saginaw High cheerleaders punished over urine-tainted drinks

A handful of Saginaw High School cheerleaders have been disciplined for giving teammates sodas mixed with urine.

District officials said at least two girls got in-school suspensions and others lesser punishments, but they would not specify how many students were involved. The girls will not be allowed to participate in cheerleading events through the end of the school year but will be allowed to participate next school year.

A parent whose daughter drank the urine-tainted beverage said those involved should be permanently removed from the team.

"They shouldn't be allowed to represent Saginaw," said the father, who did not want to be identified to protect his daughter's identity.

District spokeswoman Kristin Courtney said Principal Ric Canterbury followed district policy and the school's cheerleading constitution in deciding punishment.

The incident occurred during a basketball game last winter, the parent said. He said at least one cheerleader urinated into a cup and then mixed the urine into drinks bought at a nearby restaurant. Other cheerleaders encouraged her to give the tainted drinks to teammates at the game, the parent said.

When the girls drinking the sodas noticed an unusual taste, they were told that it was from a tart candy mixed into the drink, he said.

"The girls said they were just joking around," the father said. "It's not a good joke to me."

In March, the cheerleaders told others what they had done, according to the parent. Courtney said campus officials heard rumors and began investigating.

Cheerleading sponsor Lea Cochrane declined to comment, referring questions to Courtney, who would not say whether it involved the varsity or junior varsity squad.

The cheerleading constitution states that team members could be removed if they are expelled, placed at the Alternative Discipline Center, assigned to in-school suspension more than once or suspended more than once. The district's student code of conduct allows administrators to take into account a student's discipline history and other factors when deciding punishment.

"Discipline will be correlated to the seriousness of the offense, the student's age and grade level, the frequency of misbehavior, the student's attitude, the effect of the misconduct on the school environment, and statutory requirements," the code reads.

The code also states that students who engage in conduct that would be punishable as a felony must be assigned to the district's Disciplinary Alternative Education Program. The father questioned whether the girls' actions could be seen as tampering with a consumer product, a felony.

He said his family is not pursuing criminal charges.

"She's already been a victim once. If I go and push [charges], that would make her a victim twice" by having singled her out, he said.

EVA-MARIE AYALA, 817-390-7700