KENOSHA — An association has barred three Tremper High School coaches from attending a state competition for cheerleaders, following fallout from an awards banquet that recognized girls for their body parts.
Tremper High School cheerleader coaches were the subject of a year-long investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union, which notified the Kenosha Unified School District of concerns among parents.
The district also conducted its own investigation of the banquet in which girls were given awards for the most improved or hardest-working players, but also awarded to girls based on their body parts: “Big Booty,” a distinction given the cheerleader with the largest butt; a “Big Boobie” for the largest breasts; and a “String Bean” award to the thinnest team member.
School Superintendent Sue Savaglio Jarvis said following the regular school board meeting Feb. 26 that the cheerleader team is allowed to go to the competition, but the coaches are not.
“All three of the coaches are banned from attending the state competition,” she said.
Two of the team’s coaches are resigning at the end of the school year.
Savaglio-Jarvis said she collaborated with the Wisconsin Association for Cheer and Pom Coaches to see to it that the cheerleaders were able to attend the state tournament.
“The ban doesn’t impact students, and we actually worked in collaboration to have another coach from another school district that has the proper certification to be on the floor with the girls,” she said.
That substitute coach met with the girls on Feb. 25. Also expected to accompany the squad were two chaperones, a Tremper counselor and a school nurse.
During the school board meeting, parent Kate Trudell said she was concerned with the response from the district that the awards were just a joke or meant to be funny.
Trudell said classrooms, extracurricular activities and sports banquets should not be venues to attempt humor that harasses others.
Because of the district’s failure to follow through with a recommendation that the coaches be forced to resign, a parent went to the ACLU for relief. For that reason, she said, coaches were banned from a state tournament where Tremper cheerleaders were defending champions.
“I put that blame squarely on the district which chose to sweep this under the rug,” she said.
School board member Gary Kunich agreed with Trudell.
“You’re right. We were wrong. I think this district failed, and I’m angry about it,” said Kunich, whose daughter is a Tremper graduate. “If it happened to her, I’d be angry. I’d be one of those parents complaining. It should not have happened … there’s no excuse.”
School board president Dan Wade said the awards were insensitive and completely beyond reproach.
Wade said what happened with the Tremper cheerleaders was “truly unfortunate” and that they should not have been subject to such “vile and insensitive” awards. He said that all have expressed regret for the mistake.
“We picked ourselves up. We learned our lesson. We moved forward,” he said.