Mckinney Courier-gazette > News
Jones report details North problems
BY STEFANIE WHITE, McKinney Courier-Gazette
“Kids will be kids. But adults have to be adults” is how investigator Harry Jones characterized the discipline problems he discovered at McKinney North High School.
Jones, a Dallas attorney hired by the McKinney Independent School District to do an independent investigation of allegations about lack of proper discipline at McKinney North, said Principal Linda Theret should be “held principally accountable” for the problems that surfaced at McKinney North in a report provided to the McKinney Courier-Gazette by Bob Hinton, Theret's attorney.
“The principal failed to properly juggle two of the most important responsibilities in her life: principal and mother,” Jones wrote. “Ms. Theret abused her power and thwarted [administrators'] attempts to sponsor the cheerleading program at North, primarily due to the fact that she could not effectively divorce her mothering instincts from her administrative powers.”
Jones also places some fault on parents, teachers and other administrators in McKinney ISD for not encouraging enough discipline; the Cheerleader Constitution and Code of Conduct that “poses pitfalls through the sponsor and invites controversy and debate over the simplest of activities”; and the media for “broadcasting it as a sensationalized battle between an upright crusader and ‘girls gone wild' and ‘teasing' with a risqué photograph.”
“Administration failed to implement and access discipline equitably,” Jones wrote. “A few parents failed to see discipline as a loving instruction about life instead they enabled their children to a profound degree.”
Jones cites a group of five cheerleaders, including Theret's daughter, known as the “Fab Five” who broke dress code, skipped class, left the campus, posted sexually suggestive pictures on the Internet and acted disrespectfully toward school authority.
“A small group of ‘ultra-cool' cheerleaders at the top of the North ‘food chain' resisted all authority (legitimate and hypocritical) and failed to recognize how they were hurting their community,” Jones wrote.
A source told Jones that Theret's daughter was allowed to alter her skirt “so short it barely covered her rear-end” but “Linda [Theret] enforced the dress code on JV.” Another source said Theret's daughter also made an obscene gesture at a former cheerleading sponsor but was still allowed to try out for the squad.
Jones talked about the photographs taken at a condom store that had McKinney North cheerleaders, some posing suggestively with other girls and holding large candles shaped like male genitalia. Theret originally recommended the “immediate removal of all five from the squad.” Four of the parents appealed the decision and Crowe reduced the sentence to 15 days suspension for the photographs.
After they were put on probation for the photographs, four of the cheerleaders, including Theret's daughter, skipped class and were caught by a security guard. Former cheerleading sponsor Michaela Ward told Jones that Assistant Principal Richard Brunner had told her there was too much of a gray area to give the girls demerits or kick them off the squad.
The report also stated that a demerit book used by former coach Michaela Ward disappeared.
“It was taken by someone who stood to gain by its disappearance,” Jones wrote.
Jones described Theret's daughter as the “ringleader” who didn't suffer any consequences from her actions. An unidentified source told Jones that she liked the attention.
“She is a strong leader, very verbal and influential,” the source said. “She doesn't care what people think.”
Another source said the favoritism of Theret's daughter and the other four cheerleaders dates back to their middle school years.
“The general consensus is that these girls have not been punished properly since the seventh grade,” the source said.
Another source said the lack of discipline peaked at the homecoming dance when Theret's daughter and others were in a limousine that had alcohol in it. No citations were issued and breathalyzer tests were not administered.
McKinney police Capt. Randy Roland said the location of the dance was out of the McKinney Police Department's jurisdiction and breathalyzers are only administered with people who are driving while intoxicated.
Roland said the officer on the scene did not see any of the students consume or in possession of any alcohol.
“Nobody was falling down drunk,” Roland said. “Our officer that was assigned to the deal never saw any student use alcohol or have alcohol in their possession.”
Jones' report said Brunner found a bottle of Jagermeister in a bag in a limo that was “not nearly full any more.”
“Ultimately, the bag was obtained - the manner is in dispute,” the source said. “There was a bottle of liquor in the bag.”
Jones said the Homecoming Dance situation was the breaking point for Theret and ultimately led to the demise of the “Fab Five.” Theret's daughter was placed in an off-campus Learning Center for 60 days, and then in an alternative schooling environment. She also no longer participates in cheerleading. Crowe announced at a press conference last Monday that he placed Theret and Brunner on administrative leave after Jones presented his report to the board of trustees in a closed session the previous Saturday.
Hinton said while the report was well put-together, it had nothing to do with education.
“It's a great novel,” Hinton said. “Beyond that, it ain't much.”
Hinton said the report was more about personality differences between students, teachers and parents and he believes the incident was blown out of proportion.
“There's not a school on the face of the earth that doesn't have personality problems,” Hinton said.
Hinton said Theret's daughter and the other four girls were renegades and agrees they should have been punished for their actions, such as skipping class after being put on probation for the condom incident.
“They should have been kicked off the squad,” Hinton said.
Hinton said he places the blame on inconsistencies in punishment on Crowe, not his client.
“The lion's share of discipline, of that everybody is now critical of, Tom Crowe did,” Hinton said.
Hinton said if Theret gets punished, so should Crowe.
“If she gets suspended, he ought to be fired,” Hinton said. “He is trying desperately to save his hide.”
Cody Cunningham, McKinney ISD assistant to the superintendent for communications, said in a previous e-mail to the Courier-Gazette that the district would no longer comment on the issue.
“We are ready to move past this issue and focus our attention on our most important task, that of educating students,” Cunningham wrote.
Danny Gallagher contributed to this report.
Contact staff writer Stefanie White at email@example.com.
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