Sixteen-year-old Brittany Davila of Deer Park, Texas has been a cheerleader since junior high. But now she has been relegated to the stands, thanks to a decision from Deer Park High School officials.
Because Davila has Down syndrome, the school has labeled the teen as a “liability,” refusing to allow her on the court or field.
Said mother Buffy Davila in an interview with KTRK, "She cheered last week at the volleyball game. Then yesterday we went and it was a different coach, and now she can't do it because it's a liability."
Buffy also stated, "That's her favorite thing to do. She doesn't understand why they're telling her she can't do it. I don't know how to explain it to her."
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The school reportedly fears that Davila may be accidentally injured by players, and that the school may be responsible in such an event. While they are still allowing her to cheer, she must do so in the stands, separate from the other cheerleaders.
The girl’s father, Ruben, told KHOU, “She didn’t understand what changed from last week to this week. She was cheering along with them in the stands. She was excited, waving at them and blowing kisses.”
Brittany’s mother also noted, "If the volleyball is going to fly off the court and hit somebody, it's just as likely to hit somebody else as it is to hit her. It flew into the stands yesterday and hit people who were sitting there."
School officials reported that they are working with the family to reach a resolution, and issued a statement saying that although they could not discuss details, they, too had a side to the story.
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A portion of the statement read:
Thankfully, our cheer sponsors requested to have a meeting with the parents and District representatives … At the end of the meeting, both sides agreed to work together to resolve whatever issues remain. Deer Park ISD is proud to have this young lady involved in its cheer program, and we look forward to her continued success as an honorary cheerleader this year."