BY BUDDY NEVINS
Score one for the parents.
Listening to tearful mothers, School Superintendent Robert Runcie has decided not to rehire a high school cheerleading coach accused of allowing bullying and other widespread violations of rules last year.
Runcie gave no reason for his decision. Earlier this month he recommended that coach Melissa Prochilo be hired to lead cheerleading at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
His action Friday was to withdraw an earlier recommendation to hire the coach and pay her $2,169.
His decision came after mothers, some of them sobbing, told the School Board earlier this month that there was widespread bullying in Prochilo’s program last year.
The mothers said that when they complained to school administrators about how cheerleading was being run, their daughters were harassed on the Internet, retaliated against, threatened and publicly belittled.
Mothers also complained they were forced to pay over a thousand dollars for their child to be a cheerleader in violation of the school system’s anti-pay-for-play policy.
The policy is designed to open activities to all public school students, including those whose parents can’t afford to pay for them to participate.
There were also accusations that there was failures to report injuries, violations of field trip rules and tens of thousands of dollars handled without the safeguards required by school system policies.
Parents said that Stoneman Douglas Principal Washington Collado did nothing when told of the problems in the program.
Runcie’s recommendation on the fate of Prochilo will be discussed at Tuesday’s Board meeting.
The coach’s critics have irrefutable evidence that violations of school system policies took place.
Still, Prochilo has her supporters.
Both supporters and critics are expected to attend. That should make for a lively debate.
Here is a more complete earlier story on the situation.
And here is a story I did for Browardbulldog.org, a non-profit website, which was reprinted in local newspapers about the situation.
Below is Runcie’s recommendation on next week’s agenda. It uses her maiden name, which how she is identified by the school system’s Human Relations (click to enlarge):