Supreme Court won't hear cheerleading suit

By John O'Brien | Mar 4, 2010

Benjamin CHARLESTON - The West Virginia Supreme Court will not weigh in on the lawsuit that postponed a high school cheerleading championship.


CHARLESTON - The West Virginia Supreme Court won't weigh in on the lawsuit that postponed a high school cheerleading championship.

Four justices voted not to hear the case, which involves a penalty assessed to Tolsia High School's squad that prevented it from earning a spot in the state championship. Only Justice Brent Benjamin voted to hear the case.

The Class AA championship was scheduled for Dec. 12 but was postponed because of the suit. It has been re-scheduled for April 3.

The West Virginia Secondary Schools Activity Commission wanted the justices to lift an injunction against the enforcement of the penalty. Tolsia will compete in the state championship as a result.

On Nov. 7, the Tolsia High School cheerleading squad competed in the regional cheerleading tournament, according to the lawsuit filed Dec. 3 in Wayne Circuit Court.

According to the suit, Tawnya F. Vance, Tolsia's cheerleading coach, submitted the required cheer competition routine outline by Oct. 7 to the designated WCSSAC representative, Pat Gross. There was a partner stunt in the outline described as a "back handspring into a back roll into a handspring, flip up to a sponge."

Vance claims the same partner stunt was performed by Liberty High School's cheerleading squad in the 2008 state cheerleading competition without penalty. She claims Gross reviewed and approved the partner stunt and prior to the competitive performance, Tolsia "safely and properly performed the partner stunt 24 times" at the direction of the safety/technical judges.

The five judges at the competition awarded Tolsia a score of 341.40, ranking them runner-up in its division and qualifying the squad for the state competition Dec. 12, according to the suit.

After the announcement, the safety/technical judges assessed a 60-point penalty against Tolsia for the partner stunt, thereby disqualifying them from the state competition.

The Wayne County Board of Education is seeking an order enjoining the WVSSAC from imposing the 60-point penalty against Tolsia High School's cheerleading squad so that Tolsia will again be the runner-up and able to compete in the state cheerleading competition. J. Michael Ranson, Cynthia M. Ranson and George B. Morrone III of Ranson Law Offices are representing the Wayne County Board of Education.

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