DENVER (CBS4) – After a month-long investigation into “forced splits” at East High School, attorneys determined that school officials did not do enough to protect cheerleaders from physical and emotional harm.
The findings are detailed in a lengthy report released by the school district on Friday.
Controversial videos shared by parents show the East High Cheer coach pushing the girls into a split position during a camp in June.
In a press conference, Superintendent Tom Boasberg called the findings “painfully clear.”
“East High school Principal Andy Mendelsberg and Athletic Director Lisa Porter did not take sufficient steps to ensure that the physical and emotional safety and well-being on the East high schools cheer team were fully protected,” Boasberg said.
Tom Boasberg confirmed, as a result of the controversy, Mendelsberg retired and Porter resigned.
News that many of those rooted in the East High School community rallied to prevent.
“We really don’t want to see him be used a scapegoat for this when it clearly wasn’t his fault. He did what he was supposed to do and ran it up the flag pole,” said Mike Cohen, a parent of an East High student.
The investigation found otherwise, saying its undisputed that Mendelsberg failed to share those videos with district officials, including lawyers, and didn’t inform them when complaints about the newly hired coach started mounting.
“They included concerns that Coach Williams bullied and humiliated cheer members during practice and forced injured members to practice,” Boasberg said.
A resume for Ozell Williams included in the report shows he was hired by East High School following time at Montebello and Boulder High School, where he was let go for using the same stretching technique. Information the investigation suggests the district and the school failed to uncover.
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.