Colleyville Heritage cheerleaders take grievances to school board

GRAPEVINE -- About 50 Colleyville Heritage High School cheerleaders, friends and parents crowded into the Grapevine-Colleyville district administration building Monday night to tell the school board of their disappointment in the way they say the 2012-13 cheerleading squad was selected.

At issue for the parents is whether girls in the cheerleading programs at Colleyville Heritage and Grapevine high schools are being held to the same standards, whether mistakes were made in judging the tumbling exercises, and whether younger girls were unfairly judged the same as older girls.

Parents say differing standards at the two schools cause a disparity in judging, rating Colleyville's candidates for a competitive squad and Grapevine's for more informal sideline cheering.

"One of the judges stated that the Colleyville Heritage High School expectation for cheerleader candidates is that they be 'competitive' candidates," parent Deborah Ryan told the board during the portion of the meeting for items not on the agenda. "At Grapevine High School, the expectation is to find 'coachable' candidates."

Speakers said that the previous policy stipulated that the top 60 girls at each school who tried out made the squads. But for this school year, the Colleyville Heritage squad had only about half that many girls, and for next year, 19 girls were chosen.

"I'm here to urge you to use your authority to intervene and correct the damage that has been inflicted on our teammates and our team, as a result of the flawed cheerleader tryout process this year," said sophomore Katelyn Hicks, who made the team.

Although two girls were added to the Colleyville Heritage team after it was determined that the mathematical point judging had been harsher for them than for their counterparts at Grapevine High, the parents said, it still didn't equalize the teams.

"This arbitrary decision is a step in the right direction, but really only seems to make things worse," Hicks said. "It is better for us to have girls that might not quite be ready than to lose girls that deserve to return to the team."

The district is following its grievance policies in the matter.

"These parents have brought forth their concerns about a process," district spokeswoman Megan Overman said. "There are a lot of facts and information to be researched, and we are working with parents as we move through the grievance process, hoping to come to a satisfactory resolution for all parties."

Some parents said they had registered what are called Level 1 and 2 complaints to campus administrators and plan to proceed with Level 3 complaints to the school board.

A cheerleader controversy reaching school board level is not without precedent.

The board of the neighboring Carroll school district heard a flurry of grievances about its December 2005 cheerleader tryouts and how administrators handled the selection process. Several parents of those cheerleader candidates called the process unfair, saying there were inconsistencies in judging, scoring anomalies and favoritism.

Carroll trustees initially ordered all the girls to try out again but reversed themselves and agreed to let all the candidates join the squad.

Staff writer Jessamy Brown contributed to this report.

Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657

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