Cheerleading questions lead to resignations

By Staff
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
Cheerleading tryouts at Hartselle High School are on hold following the resignation of the sport's two sponsors.
Hartselle School Superintendent Dr. Lee Hartsell said Martha Cooper and Sonie Wilson have expressed their desire to resign as sponsors for the sport. The resignations have not been submitted in writing. Cooper and Wilson had been asked to attend the Feb. 19 school board meeting to explain the selection process to the board. On Friday, however, the two met with HHS Principal Jerry Reeves about resigning. They later met with Hartsell, who said he tried to talk them out of their decision.
"They have done an outstanding job," he said.
The resignations come on the heels of complaints from at least one parent and a letter from a local resident about the way cheerleaders were selected. They questioned the sponsors serving as judges during tryouts, especially since Cooper and Wilson own a gymnastics school attended by many cheerleading hopefuls.
In a certified letter sent to Hartsell, local resident Mike Dowdy questioned how many of the current cheerleaders attended the gymnastics school and if that was a requirement to be a cheerleader.
Hartsell said the sponsors followed "board policy," during the tryouts and he saw no problems with the sponsors serving as judges.
"As sponsors or coaches, they ought to have some say as to who's on the squad because they are the ones responsible for them," Hartsell said. "We don't ask the basketball coach or the baseball coach how they select their team."
School board chairman Ronnie Abercrombie said he thought a committee will be formed to examine the cheerleading selection process.
"We're not saying there's anything wrong with the program, but any time someone brings a complaint, we have a legal obligation to investigate it," he said. "Until then, we thought it was best for everyone if we postpone tryouts."
The rescheduled tryout dates will be determined later, he said.
The school board is scheduled to meet Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. at Barkley Bridge School.

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