By Alex Malm
The High School Varsity Cheerleading program was back on the field cheering on the football team on Friday, Oct. 13, after the squad was placed on suspension in the beginning of September.
The announcement came via a public statement released by the school district on Thursday, Oct. 12.
It read: “On Oct. 10, 2023, during a lengthy non-public meeting with the Londonderry School board, an independent investigator presented the official findings of their investigation into allegations of discrimination, harassment, and bullying on the Varsity Cheerleading Team,” the statement stated.
The statement went on to state: “While the majority of student-athletes were cleared of any wrongdoing, unfortunately, some instances of bullying and discrimination were substantiated within the program. Because the investigation found those instances did not permeate the whole team, the School Board is reinstating the Varsity cheerleading program once the administration has informed all parties of the findings and created restorative action plans setting up the expectations for the team and the Lancer Cheerleading Booster Club moving forward.”
Questions emailed to Superintendent, Dan Black, about the timeline for when the team will be able to begin participating and to clarify what restorative action plans entail went unreturned at the time of publication.
“The well-being and emotional support of the cheerleaders remain our top priority as they officially return to practice and competition,” the district’s statement reads.
For several weeks, parents and others have expressed their disappointment in the decision to suspend the team pending the investigation, including a number of parents who spoke during public comment at the previous public School Board meeting.
In a statement the district wrote, “We sincerely appreciate the cooperation of families during the investigation, and we deeply regret that any student and their family has experienced distress due to these incidents. In accordance with Londonderry High School’s policies and our code of conduct, appropriate and proportional disciplinary consequences were administered, focusing on the team’s future. Administration will continue to closely monitor the team’s dynamics and provide additional staffing to support the team as the season resumes.”
Although originally both teams were suspended in September, the junior varsity team was able to resume participating following the Sept. 25 School Board meeting.
“We have received an update on the status of the investigation and are pleased to inform you that the JV Cheerleading program is reinstated effective immediately,” School Board Chair, Bob Slater, said during the Sept. 25 meeting.
Due to the “difficult situation for all,” the district in its statement asked for the community and press to “respect the privacy of everyone involved so we can focus on healing, resuming the season, and moving forward together.”
“The Londonderry School District remains committed to working closely with our students, parents, coaches, and staff to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all of our athletic programs,” the statement reads.
The new head coach for the varsity program, Michelle Sharp, expressed that she plans on trying to get the team ready for the state competition coming up in November.