By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
The handicapped San Benito High School varsity cheerleader who accused fellow members of the cheer squad of bullying and discrimination was arrested Thursday morning for misdemeanor assault, authorities with the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District Police Department reported.
According to district police, 17-year-old Alexandria Hernandez, an SBHS cheerleader with a prosthetic leg and varsity teammates’ accuser, was taken by her aunt to the San Benito Police Department where she was booked. Hernandez faces a charge of class “C” misdemeanor assault filed by 52-year-old Colleen Duncan, who’s the mother of another senior varsity cheerleader.
Hernandez, who was arraigned by Municipal Court Judge Benjamin Yudesis, entered a not guilty plea.
The charge stems from a report Duncan filed with SBCISD police alleging that Hernandez accosted the cheer mom at an Oct. 11 pep rally held inside the SBHS gymnasium. Specifically, Duncan has accused Hernandez of grabbing her by the T-shirt and, while yelling profanities at Duncan, blamed the parent’s apparel for the teen’s alleged cancer.
The T-shirt displayed a picture of 10 of the 21 varsity cheerleaders, which Hernandez and Noe Treviño, who has identified himself as the teen’s uncle and advocate, have alleged is discriminatory and a form of bullying since Hernandez was not included in the photo.
The cheerleaders and parents accused have vehemently denied the bullying and discrimination allegations, arguing that the picture expressed a message of friendship between 10 longtime friends and that Hernandez’ exclusion was not malicious in nature. Also, the picture was originally going to be featured in a full page advertisement in the SBHS football program and as a scoreboard message—all of which paid for by the parents—before district officials pulled them at Treviño’s behest.
On Wednesday, SBCISD officials released the findings of an investigation conducted by the district’s special education law firm, Austin-based Buechler and Associates, which found that the allegations of bullying and discrimination made by Treviño and Hernandez against the cheerleaders were “unsubstantiated.”
In response to requests for comment on Hernandez’ arrest, Celia Longoria, the district’s Community Relations Director, issued the following statement:
“A San Benito High School student entered a ‘not guilty’ plea after being arraigned in Judge Benjamin M. Yudesis’ municipal court this morning. Yudesis issued a warrant for the student’s arrest. The student, who has been formally charged with a ‘Class C’ misdemeanor (assault by contact), entered a ‘not guilty’ plea and was released by the judge. A hearing date is pending. The arrest warrant stems from a personal complaint filed by a parent regarding an issue unrelated to the school district.”
Interim Superintendent of Schools Alfonso Obregón said, “We just learned of the most recent development. We sympathize with all parties involved in this matter. The district will closely monitor the progress of this case.”
SBHS Principal Henry Sanchez said, “As administrators, we make every attempt to maintain a safe and orderly environment for all of our students. This particular case stems from a parent’s personal complaint, and is at this point, at the municipal court level.”
Duncan expressed a bittersweet sentiment when learning of the arrest. “I am very happy they followed up, but I feel bad for the child herself,” Duncan said about Hernandez.
“I think she needs to be held accountable, because she is now an adult and if this happens somewhere else…,” Hernandez paused, adding, “…but this is not the first time she’s done this to anybody at the school, but nobody would do anything about it. When she gets out of the school, it’s a whole different world and her uncle needs to prepare her for that.”
Treviño said he was unavailable for comment when reached by telephone.
For more on this story, pick up a copy of the Nov. 3 edition of the San Benito News, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.