The SISD board of trustees denied a level three grievance filed by Jennifer Garrison, parent of a Stephenville High School student, at Tuesday night’s meeting. Garrison was seeking a change of rules for the cheerleaders that just went through tryouts for the 2015-16 school year.
The board ultimately decided to not grant the grievance or reopen the tryouts that took place in March.
Garrison; Stephanie Traweek, Stephenville High School’s principal; and Superintendent Matt Underwood all took the podium during the hearing. Garrison talked about her daughter and other girls who did not make the squad.
“I do not believe they didn’t make it because of their skill set,” she said. “They did not make cheerleading because the system failed them. Stephenville is the only district that uses the 80 rule.”
The 80 rule states that in order for a cheerleader to make the team, they must receive a score of 80 or more during tryouts. All the girls who tried out this year had scores that were just at 80 or a little higher, Garrison said. She added that the judges were conservative and her daughter, along with others, scored just below the 80 mark.
“I don’t feel that the whole squad decreased in their skill set,” Garrison said. “The 80 rule this year cheated many girls who are very good cheerleaders out of serving. If all the girls scored a 70, we wouldn’t have a cheer squad and that almost happened.”
Garrison ended with saying this is what the girls love and they are heartbroken not making the team.
“Look back at the thing you loved, and did for years,” she said. “And then were told you can’t do it, you’re not good enough.”
Traweek said they have done some investigating about the parents’ concerns.
“I know they wanted some standards put in place because their cheerleaders represent Stephenville,” she said. “We are very open to changes, however, I feel we have some things in place and I don’t think that it needs to be that everybody who tries out makes it.”
Underwood told the board he believes there are some areas that they could consider changing, but to go back and reopen tryouts didn’t seem feasible.
“No one wants to see a kid’s dreams crushed,” Underwood said. “But at the end of the day I couldn’t go back and open the tryouts because we might never stop reopening them.”
The SISD board was left to ask questions and discuss their opinions on the matter openly. Gary Sult said he does not want to be a board that takes no action, but he thought they should deny the grievance and look into changes in the near future.
“I agree with what Gary said, we need to take a hard look at the 80 rule,” said board member Sherrie Evans. “Personally, I think it is an antiquated rule and needs to be changed. I’m not saying now, but I would just like to look into that rule further.”
Board member Keri Vanden Berge agreed that it’s hard to go back and change a decision that’s already been made.
“But I’m not opposed to the 80 rule because I feel you have to set a standard,” Vanden Berge said.