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N.H. High School Suspends Entire Cheerleading Program During Investigation into 'Toxic' Bullying

Londonderry High School officials were informed of "a pervasive culture of bullying, harassment, and discrimination”

<p>Getty</p> Male cheerleader lifting female cheeleader above his head

Getty

Male cheerleader lifting female cheeleader above his head

A cheerleading program at a New Hampshire high school has been suspended after school officials were informed of “a toxic and pervasive culture of bullying, harassment, and discrimination.”

In a letter to the community dated Friday, Londonderry Superintendent Daniel Black addressed the allegations surrounding Londonderry High School (LHS). He wrote that the school board, with the backing of the school administration, voted unanimously to halt the cheerleading program until Sept. 23, “at which point the Board will re-evaluate the program’s standing for the remainder of the season.”

Black wrote that there had been no findings of wrongdoing in the cheerleading program. He also said the board would be hiring an independent investigator to conduct a probe into the accusations.

Meanwhile, Black said the cheerleading coach staff will be on paid administrative leave until the investigation is completed.

Related: Former Northwestern Athletes Allege 'Toxic Culture' of Hazing and Sexual Assault, Attorneys Say

<p>Google Maps</p> Londonderry High School in New Hampshire

Google Maps

Londonderry High School in New Hampshire

“If the investigation concludes that misconduct has occurred, administration will address that misconduct through typical disciplinary channels,” Black added. 

He also advised the community to let the investigator conduct their job and to not engage in speculation or rumors, writing: “Any student conduct that amounts to bullying or retaliation should be reported to the appropriate administrator and will be addressed accordingly.

“Third, while your student’s conduct in school matters, please also be mindful of their conduct on the internet,” Black continued. "Board Policy JICK extends to cyberbullying, and administration will address those allegations through its typical process.”

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In his letter, the school superintendent wrote that participation in extracurricular activities is a privilege and that Londonderry students are held to high standards. “However, fundamentally, extra-curricular activities are an extension of a rigorous program of academic instruction in Londonderry,” Black added, “and the educational component of these extra-curriculars cannot be put aside. When we receive allegations that a program’s overall culture is perpetuating mistreatment of students, we must act swiftly.”

The letter concluded: “We look forward to resolving this matter as quickly as possible and we thank you all for your commitment to making LHS a safe and respectful environment for all students.”

Captain Patrick Cheetham of the Londonderry police said, per WMUR, that there is no open investigation and that his department is not involved in the matter at the moment.

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According to a mission statement on its website, Londonderry High School said it “provides a safe and nurturing environment with varied opportunities promoting good character, academic excellence, and responsible citizenship necessary for future success in the local and global community.”

The school also listed several civic and social expectations of its students on the website, including “model ethical and lawful behavior as responsible and accountable citizens” and “develop positive relationships, demonstrate tolerance, and respect diversity.”

Londonderry High School did not immediately reply to PEOPLE's request for further information.










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