A new appeals board that would have binding authority over the county's 16 recreation councils may be the solution to a dispute over the firing of two coaches in the Edgewood Recreation Council's cheerleading program last October.
The issue arose when one squad of 6- to-8-year-old cheerleaders and their parents objected to the firings, questioned some council voting procedures and sought help from County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann and Randall J. Schultz, the county's personnel director.
The two coaches and a parent who led the opponents of the firingswere banned from the cheerleading program in November by a 12-2 voteof Edgewood Recreation Council.
The new appeals policy, drafted by Nick Fiore, chairman of the Recreation Council Presidents Committee, calls for a seven-member panel of randomly selected recreation council presidents.
Council presidents would be selected anew with each dispute heard, Fiore said. Panel members will be chosen by drawing names or numbers from a hat, he said.
The board's decisions also would be binding over the Liriodendron Foundation and the county Equestrian Center, which also have agreed to participate in the unique program, said Fiore.
Fiore's committee will vote on his plan by the end of the month. The first appeal to be heard will be the one involving the Edgewood council, Fiore said.
"The recreation councils are all independent businesses, but we're saying 'We're going to step into your pea patch in these instances,' " said Fiore. "This creates an equitable process that eliminates concern over the good ol' boys' network."
The Edgewood feud began when the parents of 10 girls on the11-member squad objected to the Edgewood Recreation Council's decision to dismiss the squad's coach, Cathy Potter, and assistant coach Vickie Tolson.
The two were dismissed by the council's cheerleading board president, Jane Wiley, in October.
Tolson was dismissed for refusing to follow Wiley's instructions to move a practice indoors, said Wiley. Potter was dismissed because she allowed Tolson to coach despite two warnings, said Wiley.
When the two coaches and parent Cyndy Minacapelli objected, and said they had been given different reasons for the dismissals, the Edgewood Recreation Council voted to banall three from the cheerleading program.
If the three women did not accept the ban, the resolution called for the cheerleading programto be abolished. The women have not been banned from other sports.
"This may put an end to the cheerleading issue," said Minacapelli, "but it won't do anything about our concerns about voting rights and by-laws."