A parent who protested the firings of two coaches on her daughter's cheerleading squad should not have been banned from the sport for contacting the press about the dispute, an advisory board has told the county executive.
The ban on participation by the parent, Cyndy Minacapelli, should be rescinded, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board recommended to County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann last week.
The board's recommendation came after a review of the Edgewood Recreation Council dispute that began last fall when Coach Cathy Potter and Assistant Coach Vickie Tolson were dismissed as leaders of a squad of 6- to 8-year-old cheerleaders. Minacapelli was among parents who publicly objected to the firings.
The dispute escalated when the recreation council banned the three women from the sport -- Tolson and Potter for three years each, Minacapelli for a year. The advisory board recommended that the bans on Tolson and Potter be reduced to two years each.
The board also recommended that Harford adopt a countywide uniform appeals process for volunteers disciplined by county recreation councils.
The Edgewood Recreation Council should write its own grievance appeal procedure within six months, to govern disputes that arise before the countywide procedure is completed, the board recommended. And, it said, recreation councils within the county's three municipalities also should create "a meaningful grievance procedure."
At a grievance hearing before the board last month, the chairman of the cheerleading program's board of directors, Jane Wiley, said the squad's assistant coach, Tolson, was dismissed for refusing to move a practice indoors.
Potter was dismissed because she allowed Tolson to coach again despite two warnings, Wiley said.
Minacapelli testified at the hearing that she was never told why she was banned from the sport, and the advisory board said the recreation council could give her no other specific reasons at the hearing.
The advisory board wrote in its opinion that Potter and Tolson could be disciplined by the Edgewood Recreation Council because they were participating in the sport as officials and knew the rules.
The board also said the two women were given a chance to present their side at a recreation council meeting.