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Parents And Students Are Pissed After An "Inclusive" High School Allowed Anyone To Be On The Cheerleading Team

"This decision was made in the best interest of our students and was made to be as inclusive as possible," the superintendent said. However, current cheerleaders feel like it's devaluing their hard work.

Posted on May 10, 2018, at 12:33 p.m. ET

A high school in New Jersey caused a lot of drama after it instated a rule that would allow anyone interested in trying out for a top-tier cheerleading squad to make the team.

The new policy was reportedly instituted after a parent of a student who did not make the cut had complained about the team's "selection process."

Hanover Park High School in East Hanover, New Jersey, decided to suspend its scoring system for cheerleading tryouts and allow anyone in 11th and 12th grades to automatically make the higher-level team. First-year and sophomore-year students will be put on a lower-level team.

They're also condensing three competency-level cheer teams into two — now based only on a student's grade level.

The teams had previously been selected based on skill after a rigorous cheerleading audition in which students were scored on things like tumbling and choreography.

In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News, Hanover High School Superintendent Carol Grossi said these changes were made after a "discrepancy was reported concerning the selection of the three varsity cheerleading squads."

Several students told CBS 2 it was a parent of a student who was placed on a lower-level squad who had made the complaint and reported the "discrepancy" to the school.

That complaint led Hanover Park High School to launch an investigation into the cheerleading scoring and tryout process.

The school " irregularity" with this process, it said, "which called into question the validity of the results."

In a letter to parents and students, school district officials explained that after only six students achieved the cutoff score for the top team under the initial scoring system, the cutoff score was then arbitrarily lowered so that five more students could join the squad.

Yet other students still missed out, so school officials decided a more inclusive policy was more in line with the school's values.

The high school principal then decided that for the 2018–2019 school year, the three skill-level squads will be condensed into two general squads based only on a student's grade.

"Our goal in doing so was to include more opportunities for those who want to be on the squad. We had a shortage of members on the team, so our goal was to get more participants onto the team for a full squad," Superintendent Gross told BuzzFeed News.

The decision has pissed off many current cheerleaders and their parents — especially those who've been training rigorously to make the elite top team. Last week, a group of them showed up at a school board meeting to push back.

According to News 12 New Jersey, 10 cheerleaders addressed the board of education in a meeting last Wednesday.

“I came up here to state that I did not put in 18 months of work to lead up to this moment, just to be told it didn’t matter anymore,” a sophomore named Jada Alcontara said.

Another student agreed, saying that the decision from the school had undermined her hard work.

“I tried my hardest. Now everything is going away because of one child who did not make the team," Stephanie Krueger told the board. "Their parent complained so now all my hard work has been thrown out the window."

On Facebook, critics are flooding the school's page with comments about the policy breeding "fragile snowflakes" and not teaching kids to "accept failure and move on."

"Our ultimate goal has been and always will be to have more participation in school activities," Grossi told BuzzFeed News. She said the school will revisit the scoring system and tryouts for next year.

"Moving forward, next year we will be releasing the new designations along with the clear scoring process prior to holding tryouts to clarify the requirements for varsity and junior varsity squads," she said.

"All guidelines will be clearly identified for all processes moving forward."

"This decision was made in the best interest of our students and was made to be as inclusive as possible," Grossi added.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.