Father In Cheerleading Hazing Video Controversy Shares His Side Of Story
ST. GEORGE, Utah – The father in the middle of a controversy involving video of a high school cheerleading hazing incident said Washington County School District officials have it all wrong.
Through his attorney Travis Christiansen, the father, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he didn’t release the hazing video to get his daughter back on the team.
Instead, he said he released the video because he felt the school district didn’t do a good enough job investigating the original hazing incident.
“When he first learned of this in late August, he was just shocked and dismayed that the school hadn’t done more,” Christiansen said. “He saw this is an act of bullying.”
Christiansen said the father only shared the video from his daughter’s cell phone with the school district, Desert Hills school resource officer, and the assistant superintendent for secondary education so a better investigation could be done.
Officials with the Washington County School District investigated the hazing after it happened in June, took action, and suspended some girls who were on the Desert Hills High School cheerleading team.
They thought the incident had been handled.
However, after the father’s daughter was kicked off the team for a separate incident, school district officials said the father threatened to release the full video of the hazing incident unless she was put back on the cheerleading team.
District officials claimed they weren’t aware of a full video.
Once district administrators received the video last Thursday, they gave it to the St. George Police Department.
Police detectives are investigating the hazing incident as well as the controversy surrounding the video, to see if any laws were broken.
Officials with the school district said the video contains semi-nude underage females.
Christiansen said all his client was trying to do was make things right.
“He wanted to make sure that these acts of hazing and bullying, that the kids know and the community knows, for the good of our community in Southern Utah and Washington County, and the kids in our schools know that bullying and hazing cannot happen,” Christiansen said.
As for why the father kept the video and why the timing of it coincides with his daughter being kicked off the team, Christiansen said the father only wanted the truth to come out.
Steven Dunham, communications director for the Washington County School District, said the district stands by its original statement and they look forward to the police investigation to see if any crimes have been committed.
Statement by the Washington County School District Board of Education:
“We are saddened by the recent incident of hazing. Please let there be no question that we will uphold and reinforce a zero tolerance of hazing in any of our schools.
“We are concerned about the culture at our schools. It is apparent that there has been a desensitizing of parents and students over the years that has led to an acceptance of these types of behaviors. Let us be very clear…initiation proceedings of this nature are not acceptable and need to stop immediately. We are inviting our parents to take a stand with us and say, “No More!”
“We are unanimous in the hope that when students and parents know of these activities, they come forward and we will support them. We have an obligation to educate students, faculty and parents in order to create a culture of zero tolerance of hazing in any form.”