SPRINGDALE, Md. - In a 6-page letter obtained by FOX 5, a group of at least a half-dozen parents allege that coaches bullied, harassed and hazed members of the novice cheer squad at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Prince George's County.
The letter outlines allegations of coaches calling students profane names, mismanagement of program fees and physical retribution in the form of extra exercise for students whose parents complained about the practices.
The parents did not speak on the record with FOX 5 for fear of retribution aimed at their daughters, but they chose community activist and Maryland State Senate candidate Everett Browning to speak on their behalf.
"We all understand tough love, understand coaching, but calling a young lady who has come for a cheerleading team, constantly calling her a b***h, constantly calling her other words to her face, calling her dumb, stupid and telling her she's not good enough to be a part of the program is unacceptable," said Browning.
The letter also details student complaints about being pushed to exercise to the point of absolute exhaustion.
"[They are] pushing some of these ladies to where they are throwing up and physically sick and ill, and they are threatened not to tell their parents about it because if they do, they are threatened, they will be thrown off the team," Browning said.
He said when the parent complaints to coaching staff continued, the novice squad was disbanded.
"This has been going on for almost a year and unfortunately when the parents decided to stand up together, the coach decided to disband the team,” Browning said. “So instead of addressing it, they just told these girls you are no longer going to be able to come here and participate.”
Prince George's County Public Schools spokesperson John White confirmed the school district is investigating the allegations and conducting interviews with staff and students. The principal is in the process of meeting with parents to address their concerns.
"We always want to make sure that our staff and our coaches are treating children with the same respect that they would want to receive and so we take the allegations seriously,” said White. “We have begun to interview students as well as adults in the building to find out exactly what has occurred.”
The parents are asking that the coaches be replaced, their money be accounted for and the school to guarantee their daughters can participate in cheer and be protected from harassment.