‘CHEERGATE’ GOES TO COURT: Cheerleader hearing rescheduled for Dec. 4

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A hearing in federal court into an injunction filed by Noe Treviño on behalf of his niece Alexandria Hernandez, the San Benito High School cheerleader with disabilities who accused fellow squad members of bullying and discrimination, has been rescheduled to Dec. 4.

Originally set for 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, the hearing is now scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, inside U.S. District Judge Andrew S Hanen’s court as per a continuance requested by the San Benito Consolidated Independent School District.

Hanen signed a temporary restraining order that Treviño filed on Friday, Nov. 8, in a successful attempt to return Hernandez, 17, to the SBHS cheer squad in time for that evening’s San Benito Greyhounds football game, which was the last of the season. She had been removed for allegedly violating the school’s cheerleader constitution.

In the order, Treviño requests a trial by jury and seeks a declaratory judgment, equitable relief, recovery of attorney fees and costs in addition to a permanent injunction allowing Hernandez back on the squad.

He specifically alleges that Hernandez, who according to the order suffers from type 1 neurofibromatosis and whose left leg was amputated as a child, has been “discriminated and harassed since she began her participation in cheerleading, including but not limited to being taunted and ridiculed by other cheerleaders and/or parents; not being told of and/or being excluded from cheerleading meetings, practices and events; publically ridiculing her at football games and other cheerleading events; and other discriminatory and harassing conduct.”

What’s more, Treviño maintains that SBCISD violated the Individual Education Plan, which affords “a free and appropriate public education as required by federal and state laws,” when Hernandez was removed from the SBHS varsity cheerleading squad. Treviño further contests that participation in cheerleading is included in the IEP.

Hernandez was kicked off the squad on Nov. 4 after she was arrested on Oct. 31 for the alleged misdemeanor assault of Colleen Duncan, who is the mother of a fellow cheerleader. Duncan, 52, accused the teenager of grabbing the cheer mom’s T-shirt while pointing and shouting profanities during an Oct. 11 pep rally held on campus. High school and SBCISD officials have cited Section 9.2 of the cheer constitution, which states that “Immediate Dismissal” occurs when: “A member engaged in a conduct resulting in arrest from law enforcement officers;” and “verbal or physical confrontation with the sponsor, a member, student, staff or parent and the use of foul or profane language, threats, or any indecent gestures.”

Referring to the accusations levied against his niece, Treviño alleged in the order that Hernandez was “provoked” by “several cheerleaders and/or parents.”

Treviño has previously argued that the T-shirt Duncan wore during the alleged assault provoked his niece, reasoning that the apparel displayed a photograph of 10 senior cheerleaders but excluded Hernandez.

Duncan, however, has defended the T-shirt by contending that Hernandez was not maliciously excluded from taking the picture.

According to Duncan, cheer parents printed the photograph on T-shirts because a full page advertisement they arranged to have published in the SBHS football program was pulled at Treviño’s behest. Treviño also requested that a scoreboard message displaying the photo be removed from rotation at Bobby Morrow Stadium.

The T-shirt and aforementioned advertisements, which Duncan said were an innocuous show of support for 10 longtime friends, were all paid for by parents of the cheerleaders.

It was on Oct. 30 that Austin-based attorneys Buechler and Associates, the law firm representing the SBCISD Special Education Department, cleared the cheerleaders of the bullying and discrimination accusations as “unsubstantiated.”

On Monday, Nov. 11, Hernandez’ father, Ralph Hernandez, called SBHS Principal Henry Sanchez in question.

“As a father, I think what Mr. Henry Sanchez did on Friday, not allowing Alexandria to participate for the last game, I think was very wrong,” Ralph Hernandez said.

Sanchez retorted with the following: “All I can say is she did get to cheer.”

Ralph Hernandez continued, “So when we got there, to the game, the parents and the cheerleaders and the coaches there were just … you could tell they were very, very upset (that Hernandez was temporarily placed on the squad due to the injunction). They were disappointed and weren’t expecting this, but it’s like I told everybody: Where there’s a will there’s a way, and there is a God.”

In further defense of his daughter, Ralph Hernandez said she has remained in good standing with the district prior to her arrest and, like Treviño, justified her actions as a breaking point.

“She’s my world and I’m going to fight to the end if I have to, but for this 52-year-old woman to stand up to my baby… that wasn’t right at all,” Ralph Hernandez said before excusing his daughter’s alleged actions. “What teenager at that age doesn’t use vulgar language or profane language?”

Duncan responded, “The cheer constitution was held last year to such strict standards and they are not held to her (Hernandez). She has had 18 demerits along with six or seven that require immediate dismissal, and they’re being looked away. And Noe’s been stalking our girls. My daughter now carries mace with her except at school, and they’re scared to death of him.”

Concerning Treviño and Ralph Hernandez, Duncan remarked, “It’s not a matter of a 52-year-old picking on this little girl. Her parents are making it so nobody can hold her accountable for anything. She is an adult; they can’t keep doing this for her for her whole life.”

Other cheer parents, who have spoken under anonymity to protect their daughters, have accused Treviño of following cheerleaders in his vehicle and staring at them—allegations the San Benito Police Department is currently investigating—as well as litigiousness in what they believe is an opportunistic attempt to build a case for a discrimination lawsuit.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.sbnewspaper.com/2013/11/16/cheergate-goes-to-court-cheerleader-hearing-rescheduled-for-dec-4/

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