The family of an Ohio teen with Down syndrome said they were shocked when their son didn’t land a spot on the cheer squad.
The 17-year-old’s grandmother and legal guardian, Carolyn Sue Morris, 69, wanted to get to the bottom of what happened considering he was picked to join the squad earlier this year, reports Metro.
Morris said her grandson, Glenn Wilson, began faithfully practicing for West High School’s cheer team this summer.
Glenn’s uncle, Ray Valentine, 47, said:
“He practiced his cheers all summer at home, and he was showing us his cheers, his splits, and his heel stretches.”
The teen’s family grew concerned when Glenn’s team starter kit containing training schedules and uniforms costs wasn’t mailed during summer break. His grandmother said:
“He kept asking when practice was going to start. At the end of August the cheer supervisor called and said that she didn’t have a spot for him on the team, but that he could be a waterboy.”
According to Valentine, the boy was singled out for his disability.
“My nephew didn’t fit ‘the image’ she wanted for the squad so she removed him.
[…] The coach said that she didn’t have any experience in dealing with special-needs students.”
According to the family, the coach refused to allow Glenn on the team.
“This is just an absolute mess. It is total discrimination.”
His family said kids love him at games and that Glenn cheers just as well as everyone else on his squad.
Watch the teen participating in a game:
Eventually, the 17-year-old was able to participate at games but not as a full team member.
The Columbus Board of Education is investigating allegations of discrimination but said the incident is most likely the result of a misunderstanding. Scott Varner, a spokesperson for the school district, said:
“There may have been some mistakes that were made and we are trying to look into what those mistakes were. He’s just like any other cheerleader on that team, and he is not being excluded in any way.”
According to WSYX, Glenn is now a full member of the cheer team, and he was excited to cheer alongside his team at Friday’s homecoming game.
Watch the video below: