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West Sacramento high school cheer squad yearbook scandal

11:30 AM, May 28, 2011   |    comments
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WEST SACRAMENTO, CA - River City High School cheerleaders were targets of a mean spirited article published in this year's yearbook, and several hundred copies of the book were picked up by students Friday.

Subsequently school staff were suspending pickups until the yearbook editor helped rewrite a replacement page.

The article was titled, "Who Wears Short Shorts" and described the cheer squad as showing "more leg than Daisy Duke" and being "dolled up in micromini(sic) uniforms" while "strolling down halls" with "blatant disregard" for River City High's "school dress code."

The article came complete with pictures taken while the teams skirts were high up after completing a jump exercise.

A second page also showed digitally edited pictures with only the legs of some girls shown.

"Ugh! I was really mad. I was shaking," said cheerleader Breannah Gully after picking up her yearbook. "And I started reading, and everyone had to tell me to calm down and I was just angry at the words, and I called my mom and I was crying."

"I'm pissed," said Breannah's mother Michelle Gully. "We spent a lot of money on these uniforms - we don't even get to pick the uniform."

Gully senior added, "My concern is they're letting the students write this, edit this and print this."

River City staff gave parents copies of the education code showing that state law allows for the language. Some school officials said because of a court case - referred to as "Hazelwood" - officials were forced to leave the final editorial decisions to the students.

Hazelwood is a late '80s Supreme Court ruling that gives principals the power to review and censor high school newspapers. The Court ruled that "educators do not offend the First Amendment by exercising editorial control over the style and content of student speech in school-sponsored expressive activities so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns."

A River City Vice principal said the article didn't create libel, so all they could do was strongly encourage the editor to "make the right decision."

The 16-year-old responsible for writing the article wrote a response saying, "I deeply regret submitting this page to my adviser, as well as letting it be published. I made an editorial mistake and I apologize for any pain that I may have caused. I did not mean for this spread to be malicious or maleconent in any way. This page was not an attack on the cheerleaders; it was not out of spite. While I did try out for the team in 2009, I carry no resentment towards the cheerleaders or their families. We [the yearbook staff] are currently taking steps to make amends. Again, I apologize for any hurt that I may have caused."

School officials said 400 books were picked up by students Friday. The remaining 600 will not be handed out until the cheer squad article is replaced.

Join local moms who are talking about this story on MomsLikeMe.

Natalie Sentz, nsentz@news10.net

News10/KXTV

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