Utah scholar with Down syndrome ignored, college criticized

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A Utah middle school cheerleading program was criticized after a student with Down …

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A Utah middle school cheerleading program came under fire after a student with Down syndrome who worked as a team manager was banned from an official team portrait earlier this year.

The Shoreline Junior High School cheerleading team took two official team portraits – one with 14-year-old Morgyn Arnold and another photo that included everyone but Arnold, the Salt Lake Tribune reported on Wednesday. The latter photo was used by the school on social media and in the yearbook.

Arnold’s older sister, Jordyn Poll, 25, said she believed the decision was made because of her sister’s disability. She also said it was the second time in three years that Arnold had been struck from the yearbook – she wasn’t mentioned on the class list two years ago.

“Morgyn is very intelligent,” said Poll, adding that her sister’s name wasn’t even mentioned in the yearbook. “She knew what happened. She was sad and she was hurt. “

In public posts on Facebook and Instagram, Poll shared the two photos, arguing that the school was deliberately excluding her sister. She said her sister spent hours learning the dances, going to games, and helping the team.

“It’s the SAME cheering team – SAME girls, SAME photo shoots, SAME poses, but one thing included all team members and one didn’t,” said Poll. “A selection has been made as to which photo should be submitted.”

Shoreline Junior High apologized on their Facebook page. But the page was later hidden or deleted.

“We are deeply saddened by the mistake that was made of leaving a student photo out of the yearbook,” says the post. “We apologized to the family, and we sincerely apologize to everyone else who is affected by this mistake. We keep looking at what happened and improving our practice. “

The Davis School District in Davis County, north of Salt Lake City, made a similar statement.

“We continue to investigate what happened and why it happened,” the statement said. “We will continue to review our processes to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Poll said her family first called the school and was told there was nothing they could do, The Tribune reported. She said the school contacted the family again on Wednesday and was working to “fix the situation”.

Utah Disability Rights Center attorney Nate Crippes said Wednesday that this type of exclusion is common in schools across the state and that the center receives about 4,000 complaints annually. Crippes said all districts can work to improve by adding more accommodations and being more inclusive.

Arnold is going to be in the ninth grade of Shoreline Junior High next year, Poll said, adding that her sister has not yet decided whether she will continue to be the cheer manager.

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