Some describe the Texas cheerleader scandal as a case of "girls gone wild", and others would say that it's a case of parenting gone badly. Either way, no one denies the behavior and antics of the 2005 senior cheerleaders on the North McKinney High School squad were a serious problem.
The seniors on the North McKinney High School squad, known as "The Fab Five", caused a scandal to erupt when they posed in racy photos while wearing their uniforms and posted the photos on MySpace. However, what was shocking was that the photos were but a simple reflection of four years of bad behavior from the girls known as the "Fab Five". Upon further investigation, Harold Jones, a Dallas attorney hired to investigate the situation, found numerous parties at fault, including the administration and the cheerleading coach. Lifetime network made a movie about the girls' antics as well.
Cheerleaders Behaving Badly
The infamous photos depicted the girls in a variety of compromising situations. Girls in bikinis sharing bottles of booze with other girls, girls in risqué poses giving glimpses of their underwear and the final straw: the Fab Five posed (in uniform no less) at a Condoms to Go store holding candles that were shaped like a penis. One of the girls appeared to be simulating oral sex. The photos were posted on MySpace.
While the Fab Five photos became the center of the media storm, it was Michaela Ward, the cheerleading coach, who was forced to resign when, according to her, all efforts to discipline the girls were undermined by the administration.
However, when Harold Jones began his investigation, he noted that the photos were merely depicting what had become a four year tyranny of the Fab Five. One teacher said that the girls were so untouchable, gang members were easier to deal with. Resisting all discipline both in the classroom as well as on the squad, it seems that the girls were enabled to the highest degree.
Where Were the Parents?
Perhaps one of the most sited quotes from Harold Jones' final report on the entire incident was that he was struck by the hesitation of the adults in the situation to step up and be adults. Notably, Linda Theret, the principal of North McKinney high school, was also the mother of one of the cheerleaders. She was accused of not only failing to discipline the girls, but also of covering up their antics to allow them to stay on the squad and continue behaving badly.
Michaela Ward: Whistle Blower
Since the girls refused any sort of discipline, they went through five coaches in three years. It was Michaela Ward who was their final coach, and it was her that brought what she felt was a culture of entitlement to a halt. Perhaps making the school administration look worse, they released a public attack on her character and accused her of making false allegations. She still remains friends with some of the girls and actually works for one of the girls' parents. She sued the school district and in many ways became the scapegoat goat of this story.
Who's At Fault in the Texas Cheerleader Scandal?
Who is at fault in this story really depends on whose side you believe. Now that there has a been a full investigation, most people are inclined to believe Harold Jones and note that what was missing was a lack of adults willing to be the adult. He sites:
- Michaela Ward for befriending and enabling the girls
- Linda Theret, the then-principal of North McKinney High, for covering up scandals and failing to discipline the girls
- Other teachers for choosing career advancement over stepping up (He notes that teachers were being verbally abused and bullied and could've said something to the district, but did not so as not to affect their careers.)
- The girls for simply being disobedient and running amok
- The assistant principal for looking the other way
- The media for running amok with a story and sensationalizing it to make more money
According to Jones, no one in this situation is innocent. However, every tale has several sides.
The Girls and Their Families
The girls note that their coach, Michaela Ward, was their buddy and tried to get chummy with them. According to the girls, Ward never disciplined them.
Theret lost her job as principal over the incidents. However, she maintains that those who were in authority over her resisted her efforts to discipline the girls.
According to Ward, she was the only solid voice of reason in the situation. She certainly walked away in the best shape. While the district and the media slammed her character, she is still coaching cheerleading and working on her Masters. She sued the school district for wrongful termination and defamation, but eventually dropped the suit.
Parenting Gone Badly
Regardless of how you look at the Texas cheerleader scandal, there is little doubt that the girls should've been given firmer boundaries and that their parents, including Linda Theret, needed to step in. What is especially sad about the situation is that it all was preventable had their parents done the right thing earlier. Now the girls have gone on to college and reports are that they are doing well.