The Edgewood Recreation Council will abolish its cheerleading program unless two fired cheerleading coaches, and a parent who objected totheir dismissals, agree not to participate in the program.
The council voted, 12-2, Thursday to pass the sanctions, with four members abstaining.
"I'm shocked. I can't tell you how shocked I am," said Edward Lattanzi, president of the county's Parks and Recreation Advisory Board,which oversees the recreation councils, when told Friday of the vote.
Lattanzi has been trying to mediate the dispute over the firings.
"I see no evidence the kids have been mistreated, except to be exposed to all this," said Lattanzi.
"The kids are hurting because the grown-ups aren't getting along."
Lattanzi, who said he sees a need for an established appeals process, said he is consulting with County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann and Stan Koznewski, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, on the matter.
Under the motionpassed Thursday, former assistant coach Vickie Tolson and coach Cathy Potter would be banned from participating in the Edgewood Recreation Council cheerleading program, or any related cheerleading program, for three years.
The two were dismissed by the council's cheerleading board president, Jane Wiley, in October. Tolson was dismissed forrefusing to follow Wiley's instructions to move a practice indoors, said Wiley. Potter was dismissed because she allowed Tolson to coach despite two warnings not to let her do so, said Wiley.
Cindy Minacapelli, a parent who spoke out publicly and in the press protesting the dismissals, was banned from the cheerleading program for one year.The motion says that if the three women fail to accept the ban, the cheerleading program will be abolished. The women have not been banned from participating in other sports.
"This was the only way to stop it," said Betty Born, the recreation council board member who madethe motion offering the women a choice. "There's been a lot of heartaches and a lot of prayers, and I've been to many meetings about this, and I'm tired of it. They will not follow instructions."
"I wantto know what I've done," Minacapelli said after the vote.
All three women, who each have a daughter in the cheerleading program, have been fighting for a change in the appeals process to settle program disputes or firings and for reforms in cheerleading and recreation council voting procedures.
Her question was never directly answered during debate on the motion. A bylaw cited in the motion says: "The council will not tolerate demonstrative, unacceptable behavior on the part of any of its coaches, players, parents or spectators."
Born introduced the motion after Minacapelli and Potter demanded public explanations for why Potter and Tolson were dismissed.
After the meeting, Wiley said she was upset because she believes publicity over thedispute has shadowed the accomplishments of two other cheerleading squads. The squad of 7- to 9-year-olds and the squad of 8- to 10-year-olds each took third place in a Nov. 3 regional competition.
"I dorealize there need to be changes. One of their main issues is the means of voting and that needs to be dealt with. I agree the cheerleading program bylaws need to be re-written," said Wiley.
She said shehad decided to operate the program under existing rules because she was new at the job.
"I love all the girls and don't want to do anything to hurt the girls," said Wiley. "But if they want to continue to exploit the community and the county by using the paper and by using the girls, and can't abide by the ban, I would rather see the program abolished."