REDLANDS (CBSLA.com) — Parents and school board members gathered in Redlands on Thursday to discuss a photo of cheerleaders dressed as gang members to celebrate spirit week.
A photo of the Redlands East Valley High Cheer Squad shows the cheerleaders dressed in stereotypical gang member clothes – bandannas, baggy pants, plaid button-down shirts buttoned only at the top, and some even stuffed their shirts to appear pregnant. Several of the girls sported hand signs.
The picture prompted a special meeting at the Redlands Unified School District, which has hired an investigative firm to decide if action should be taken against the students.
It’s still unclear whether the cheer team will be on the field during Friday night’s kick-off.
But supporters say the cheerleaders were simply dressed up for spirit week.
“They found ‘Super-Hero Day’ and then had to come up with another day, and did ‘Gangsta Day,'” said resident Catherine Pritchett, before adding, “which is something that’s been done not only at the school, but at local schools, the district level, and surrounding communities, as well as statewide at state-level competitions. It’s just a hip-hop theme.”
She said, “It was just in fun, these girls went in on this day, got dressed up for 10, maybe 15 minutes, took some pictures, had some laughs, giggled like teenage girls do, changed back in their uniforms and went back to practice.”
When the photo popped up on social media five weeks ago the cheerleaders and their coaches were placed on hiatus.
A member of the cheer squad opened up for the first time to CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Tom Wait about the controversial photos.
“It was not meant to be malicious. It was not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings,” cheerleader Jayden Randazzo said. “It wasn’t just ‘Gangsta Day,’ it was a group of days. And we don’t feel we should be represented just for one bad decision.”
“It’s been extremely difficult not being able to get together at practice and to be able to see all my friends and practice what we love together,” the cheerleader said.
Pritchett said the issue is a reminder that students should think twice about what they post on social media.