FONTANA (CBSLA.com) — Varsity spirit squad members at Redlands East Valley High School were cheering for more than one reason at Friday night’s season-opening football game.
The team was reinstated after the district’s investigation into a photo of the team that was posted to an Instagram account concluded.
More than a dozen squad members were dressed in what some described as gangster clothing in the photo taken during a team-building exercise at the high school on Spirit Day. This year’s theme was “Gangsta Day.”
CBS2’s Laurie Perez spoke with students who attended the varsity football game against Summit High School at A.B. Miller High School in Fontana where cheerleaders recovered from pre-season problems.
The photo revealed some of the young women wearing bandanas, Chuck Taylors, flannels and fake tattoos. Two of the young women even stuffed their shirts to appear pregnant, and several others were seen flashing hand signs.
“We’re all kids, you know, and I feel that it was an innocent thing that kind of got blown out of proportion,” said student Jordan Mock.
Needless to say, this immediately sparked controversy over whether squad members had stereotyped certain groups, which lead to the teams temporary suspension.
Supporters of the squad, however, said members were just dressed up for spirit week with harmless intentions.
The squad was put on hiatus for at least five weeks after the photos appeared on social media. During this time, the Redlands Unified School District hired an outside firm to assist with the investigation.
“The investigation has documented poor judgment on behalf of the coaches and youthful indiscretions,” school district officials released in a statement. “It is clear, however, that no one intended harm or ethnic insult.”
It was unclear if any of the students or coaches received further discipline for the photos after being reinstated by the school board.
School district officials said that more intense staff training is needed. They are also creating a student curriculum that will address sensitivity and awareness.