Cheerleader forced-splits video leads high school principal, athletic director to step down


In this undated image taken from video, a cheerleader at Denver (Colo.) East High School is forced into a split while her teammates hold her down.  (KDVR)

A Colorado high school principal has retired and the athletic director has resigned amid the ongoing fallout over a video that showed cheerleaders being forced to do painful splits. 

Denver East High School principal Andy Mendelsberg and Athletic Director Lisa Porter had been suspended after the video emerged last month. The recordings showed eight cheerleaders repeatedly being pushed into splits while their arms were held down by teammates. 

In one video, a girl appears to cry out in pain and repeatedly asks her coach to "please stop."

Cheerleading coach Ozell Williams was fired shortly after the videos became public. 

On Friday, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg released the findings from an investigation into the incident conducted by an outside law firm.

According to the investigation, school officials were aware of the videos in June and met with Williams then. However, Mendelsberg denied that he had access to the videos and declined to act on complaints made by parents. 

The report also found that Williams "bullied and humiliated" cheerleaders during practice and required the athletes to "friend" him on Facebook, actions that the district said were unacceptable.

KDVR reported that a handful of East students staged a walkout Friday to protest the anticipated leadership change. 

Volunteer assistant cheer coach Mariah Cladis and DPS deputy general counsel Michael Hickman were suspended during the investigation. They were cleared of wrongdoing and Boasberg reinstated Hickman.

A criminal investigation into the videos is ongoing. 

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