Cumberland County

Cumberland JFL Cheer Team Part 4: Appear to Violate Their Own Rules

Cumberland Co., IL. (ECWd) –

When an organization purports to establish rules, which include punishing offenders, the written rules are what must be followed.

In this situation, it is our opinion that the Cumberland JFL Cheer Board failed to follow their own rules.

There appear to be 5 separate sets of rules, both published and unpublished. There also appears to be different sets of punishments for violations of different rules. According to the parent we spoke with, no “by-laws” were ever handed out to cheer parents – the other rules are below.

Under their own rules, they can only remove a cheerleader from the team when “arguing with a coach during a cheer event” to an uncontrollable extent continues – which means the same behavior described continues in the “uncontrollable extent” during a cheer event (see 2nd letter).

Clearly, the board uses different sets of rules and different alleged behaviors in order to eject this cheerleader and her parent. The 1st letter only complained about the Pizza Hut payment issue, how the parent “approached” a coach and board member, and the request to see financial records. This same letter flies against the signed rules stating for a parent to allow 24 hours for a response, by instead,  demanding 30 days to respond. The 2nd letter fails to address any infractions at all – none. So how can this be “continued uncontrollable behavior during a cheer event”? If nothing else, it certainly smells of avoiding opening the financial records.

The board, in printing the alleged “financial information” in the local newspaper, acknowledged that any parent can physically see the financial records if they ask. They did not say a former parent, a parent they kicked off the team after asking to see the records, could see the financial records, which gives the appearance of improprieties since she is no longer authorized to look at the books.

Additionally, why were two new board members added for the 2/3 board vote – and if all the board members are parents, are they not conflicted in that decision? Do they have to ask for financials in writing 30 days prior to wanting to look at them?

Finally, the method in which they appear to apply fundraising monies to parent accounts appears to violate IRS rules. What typically should happen, is all fundraising money is pooled, and then distributed evenly to each parent’s account and not based off of how much they personally raised in the fundraising activity. A 2011 letter from the United States Department of the Treasury explains this process when applied to booster clubs, but it should be applicable to similar organizations (read it here) such as this cheer team.

We invite any cheer board member or its attorney to contact us to provide additional or conflicting information to what we have been presenting.

Rules signed at beginning of season:

  • Please allow 24 hours for an answer to questions.
  • Raffle ticket sales numbers calculated to a number of tickets you need to sell in order to cover your costs.

General Rules and Expectations” that should be signed:

  • Discipline for bullying inappropriately (is there an appropriate way to bully?).
  • Not affiliated with school but act as if they are.
  • Represent the school.
  • If parent causes a scene with the coach or a board member “at a game” child will be benched for the following game.
  • We are representatives of our school and should act as such at all times.
  • By-Laws will be handed out (parent states no by-laws were ever handed out to parents?).

Additional “Rules” sent in the September 24th letter to parent (1st Letter):

  • Request to see financials in writing.
  • Place it in the mailbox with self-addressed stamped envelope.
  • The Board has 30 days to respond according to their by-laws.
  • Pay any fees for copies.
  • More unpublished by-laws rules.
  • Upset about the way parent approached a coach and board member.
  • Mentioned the Code of Conduct and protocol for addressing concerns with coaches and board members.

More “Rules” mentioned in the 2nd Letter dated September 26th:

  • Should make appointment to speak with coach or board member
  • Arguing with coach during any cheer activity “to an uncontrollable extent” to “cause harm whether physical, mental, or emotional” the parent will be asked to leave the premises with their cheerleader and the end result will result in one missed game on the cheerleader’s record.
  • “IF” problem continues the cheerleader or dancer will be removed from the team by 2/3 board vote.

2/3 Board vote required for removal from team:

  • The 2nd letter mentioned a requirement of 2/3 board vote to remove cheerleader from team
  • At the beginning of the year, the board members were: Scarlett McBride, Lori Wilson, Jenny Miller, Traci Becker, Rhonda Walsh, and Amy Baker
  • The board members for the 2/3 ejection vote were: Scarlett McBride, Lori Wilson, Jenny Miller, Traci Becker, Amy Baker, Rachel Shepard, and Tanya Daughterty – all members also happened to be cheer parents – which creates the appearance of a conflict of interest when deciding to kick someone off the team

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