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Sunday, January 07, 2007

If someone has a solution to this problem, I'm all ears 

A quick overview (thanks to Randy Morin):

Some Dallas-area cheerleaders caused big trouble at their school when risque pictures of them turned up on MySpace.com.

The group of cheerleaders at McKinney North High School was known as the "Fab Five." The girls were "uber cool," according to attorney Harry Jones, who was hired by the school district to launch an investigation.

They were "telling teachers to shut up, using a cell phone in class even after being told not to, cheating on tests, skipping school," Jones said.

The pictures turned up on MySpace.com in September. The girls were drinking in some of them, NBC News' Michelle Kosinski reported. In another picture, girls posed in the cheerleading uniforms in a condom shop....

Jones said they felt they could intimidate and threaten anyone at the school in part because the principal, Linda Theret, was the mother of the squad's co-captain.

In the wake of the investigation, Theret agreed to resign and the Fab Five are now off the cheerleading team.

But it took some time, and a cheerleading coach resignation, to get to that point:

The varsity cheerleading coach and teaching intern at McKinney North High School said she quit because the school would not back her up on discipline she said a small number of team members needed.

Michaela Ward said her cheerleaders had some behavorial problems such as skipping classes, being late to practice and even smarting off to teachers. However, the girls' biggest offense was when they posed for a sexually suggestive photograph while wearing their school uniform inside a Condoms To Go store....

Ward said the girls were suspended for 30 days but that the suspension was overturned, in part, because one of the cheerleaders is the daughter of the McKinney North High School principal.

The girls' suspensions were rolled back to 15 days plus probation....

"Young kids are going to live up to expectations that we set and if our expectations are that low that's how they are going to perform, and that's sad," said Ward.

Despite the outcome of this situation, Ward said the squad is an incredibly talented group with a few members who made stupid choices....

Nearly two dozen parents drafted a letter supporing Ward and said there has been a three-year history of cheerleading sponsors being run-over by the school along with a perpetual cycle of bad behavior by the squad.

So how did the high school district initially respond to Ward's resignation? Blame the messenger:

McKinney Independent School District officials stand by the policies and procedures in place to address discipline issues within the District. The McKinney ISD Board of Trustees, administrators, faculty, and staff take both the disciplinary and appeals process extremely serious, as is evidenced on a daily basis in McKinney schools. In accordance with State law, Board policies FNG (LEGAL) and FNG (LOCAL) require the District provide parents the right to appeal decisions regarding discipline. The fact that discipline may be modified in certain cases is evidence of the fact that the system works and that the District takes the time to consider all of the facts. “Allegations by the former McKinney North High School cheerleading sponsor, Michaela Ward, regarding a lack of administrative support are simply untrue,” said Cody Cunningham, McKinney ISD Assistant to the Superintendent for Communications.

Well, guess what? Eventually the principal and another administrator did resign, the "fab five" are no longer cheerleaders, and McKinney North High School is featured in Newsweek.


More here. And if you're hooked on blog titles, the relevant text from the 1992 presidential debate is here, and a Wikipedia article on "No Pass No Play" (which presumably also affects cheerleaders) is here (not that the fab five were failing - after all, they were cheating, so presumably their grades were good).

From the Ontario Empoblog (Information on the greatest 20th century U.S. president here)

Ohhh, the déjà vu. I’m pretty sure I went to school with these bratty assed little girls 20 years ago. The problem, in my school, was that we were a very small town run by football. Players and cheerleaders had carte blanche. They literally ruled the town. The whole left side of my body twitches at the sudden recall brought on by this story. I may have to lie down.
Grrr. I hate reading about ineffective administration who fail to back up/support their staff, especially in the face of glaring evidence of behavioural misconduct on the part of the kiddies.

I think that educational reform begins with firing a lot of principals and VPs and hiring people with integrity and a healthy vision for education, to replace them.

I'm glad that principal resigned (although I wonder if the other option wasn't for her to be fired?). I hope she never finds work again in a school. BAH!
I have known of two principals, nearing retirement, who chose to let bad situations fester rather than addressing them. I also knew of one principal, nowhere near retirement, who let a bad teacher continue to teach for far too long. However, I haven't personally encountered any nepotism issues in the education arena...
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