LISD Cheerleader Selection Process
We, the taxpayers, parents, and teachers of the Leander Independent School District do hereby present this petition to the LISD Board of Trustees to remove the use of grade averages as a factor in selecting cheerleading squads. The use of awarding points based on academic performance in the selection process is a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (an amendment to the Civil Rights Acts) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Under Section 504, the right of an equal opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities is qualified by the requirement that the student is “otherwise qualified” and that the "basic requirements" for participation do not have to be changed.
Definition of “NOT otherwise qualified”:
A person is "not otherwise qualified" if the person poses a substantial risk or danger to themselves of others. Therefore, the absence of any risk of injury or harm by definition implies that the person is “otherwise qualified”.
Definition of "basic requirements":
In order for selection criteria for skill-based extra-curricular activities to be nondiscriminatory they must be rationally related to the purposes and goals of the specific program or activity generally. Since their GPA is not placed on cheerleaders uniform, is there any way to identify the learning disabled student from the non-learning disabled student from the sidelines?
Main Points to this petition:
1) The use of the academic points is in essence the school districts attempt to screen out or tends to screen out individuals with a learning disability.
2) We are not asking for "fundamental" modifications to the cheer program by removing the academic component. The UIL no pass - no play would ensure that academic rigor is maintained.
3) The inclusion of learning disabled students would not fundamentally alter the cheerleading squad or program, its ability to perform its cheers or represent the student body, and it would not make the cheerleading squad less safe.
4) Removing the academic criteria would not represent a competitive advantage; it would not increase or reduce cheer talent in any way from any of the cheerleaders.
5) The essential requirements for a cheerleader should be what can be seen by the spectators from the sidelines. In football this would be ability to catch, pass, run and score. In cheer it should be cheerleading.
Leander ISD cannot justify the use of grades as a criterion for cheerleader selection as an essential component of the cheerleading activity. Similar skill-based activities, specifically athletics, only utilize the state UIL standards for participation, not selection. Therefore, the use of the grading criteria to exclude students with disabilities is a clear violation of the students protected rights under IDEA, Section 504 and ADA.