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Salt Lake City (AP) — A middle school cheerleading program in Utah was criticized after a student with Down syndrome who worked as a team manager was excluded from the official team portrait this year.
The Shoreline Middle School cheerleading team shot two official team portraits. One is a photo of 14-year-old Morgin Arnold, and the other is a photo that includes everyone except Arnold. The Salt Lake Tribune reported on Wednesday. The latter photo was used by the school on social media and yearbooks.
Arnold’s sister, Jordin Paul, 25, said she believed the decision was made because of her sister’s disability. She also said that Arnold was excluded from the yearbook for the second time in three years — she wasn’t on the class list two years ago.
“Morgin is very smart,” Paul said, adding that her sister’s name wasn’t even listed in the yearbook. “She knew what had happened. She was sad and injured.”
In a public post on Facebook and Instagram, Poll shared two photos and claimed that the school intentionally excluded her sister. She said her sister spent hours learning to dance, going to games and supporting the team.
“It’s the same cheering team — the same girl, the same photo shoot, the same pose, but one included all team members and the other wasn’t,” Poll said. “The photo you want to submit has been selected.”
Shoreline Junior High posted an apology on the Facebook page. However, the page was later hidden or deleted.
“I’m deeply saddened by the mistake of omitting student photos from the yearbook,” the post said. “I apologize to my family. I sincerely apologize to everyone else affected by this error. We continue to see what happened and continue to improve our practices.”
The Davis School District in Davis County, just north of Salt Lake City, issued a similar statement.
“We are still investigating what happened and why,” the statement said. “We will continue to consider the process so that this never happens again.”
According to polls, her family first called the school and was told that there was nothing they could do, Tribune reported. She said the school contacted her family again on Wednesday and was working “to get the situation right.”
Nate Crypse, a lawyer at the Utah Center for the Law for Persons with Disabilities, said Wednesday that this type of exclusion occurred frequently in schools throughout the state, with the center receiving about 4,000 complaints annually. Crippes said all districts can work on improvements by adding more accommodation and becoming more comprehensive.
Arnold will be in ninth grade at Shoreline Middle School next year, Paul said, adding that her sister hasn’t yet decided whether she will continue to be a cheer manager.
Utah students with Down Syndrome excluded, school criticized –
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