Klein High School: Parents of former cheerleaders allege discrimination; Klein ISD calls allegations of racism “unfounded”

KLEIN, Texas (KTRK) – The Klein Independent School District is responding to allegations of racial discrimination by the parents of two black college cheerleaders who say their daughters were victims of an unfair trial at Klein High School.

Parents Allegra Jackson and Vickie Dowell are calling on the high school to repeat its cheerleading attempts this year and provide a “level playing field” for all contestants. This comes after they say their daughters were the only returning varsity cheerleaders who tried this year and didn’t make the team.

The allegations of discrimination eventually led to head cheerleading coach Kiamesha White resigning from her position.

They were joined by their attorney Yancy Carter, Rainbow Push Coalition’s Candice Matthews, New Black Panther Nation’s Quanell X and Kiamesha White at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

“The issues that have impacted our Black daughters are indeed systemic, a definite pattern that needs to be corrected for future students progressing through the program,” Jackson said.

Former head coach White, who was on family and sick leave during the testing period, says she was shocked by the result. After returning to work, she claims she received allegations that outgoing senior cheerleaders leaked test match material and gave other contestants an advantage.

Klein ISD’s Justin Elbert said outgoing senior cheerleaders should have a copy of the routine video to teach contestants how to choreograph. However, in a district letter issued at the press conference, Klein ISD wrote: “We cannot say with absolute certainty that candidates received the tryout material in advance.”

The letter also states, “As a campus, we will recognize that there are some things we could improve in the tryout process. To address these concerns, we will be creating a detailed plan for our tryout process, which we will follow in the future and will work with other campuses to provide the best tryout experience for our students. We will be submitting this plan to the Klein ISD Department of Campus Safety and Support for approval to ensure we have a strong process for future cheer tryouts.”

Jackson and Dowell also expressed concern about some outgoing senior cheerleaders who are said to have been giving private lessons to candidates for $25 that year. Elbert said this option has been available for 30 years. White confirmed this, but said classes should be halted this year.

“They did that in the past, before I even became a cheer coach. The cheer director told me, ‘It can’t happen this year.’ So I said, ‘Okay. That’s something you need to discuss with the parents and tell them you don’t want that,'” White said.

White says there are also inconsistencies in the score sheets that have been changed and not approved by the judges. She eventually resigned after saying she was unable to address these concerns with other members of the coaching staff and school administrators.

“It couldn’t have gone ahead if they knew for sure that the information was leaked and that other people had the material beforehand because that’s the upper hand on everyone else in trying it, and that’s not fair,” she says. “At that point I was like, ‘You know. This is mentally draining.’ It was too much. It was very, very stressful and I knew at that point it was time for me to take a step back.”

In a statement to ABC13, Klein ISD’s Justin Elbert wrote: “The allegations of racism are unfounded and unfounded. Like most districts, we hire third-party judges for cheer tryouts. Based on the students’ results that day, 24 students were selected from the 30 participants. The team consists of students from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, including African American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic and White.”

The parents and their attorneys say they are asking to meet with the district and claim officials have not been very responsive to their communication efforts. They want the process to be more transparent so that those concerns don’t come up again.

“There are more issues than the racial component to these issues. We’re talking about the procedural issues, so let’s not lose sight of that,” Dowell said.

For more on this story, follow Rosie Nguyen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. Klein High School: Parents of former cheerleaders allege discrimination; Klein ISD calls allegations of racism “unfounded”

Dais Johnston

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