If what the Omaha World-Herald says is true, 16-year-old Julia Sullivan "likes to dance [and] wants to get people excited for games." Following those passions, she tried out to join her friends on the cheerleading squad not once, not twice, but three times.
She took dance lessons for 10 years, sitting on the floor, placing shoes on her arms and tapping out rhythms on the floor. For cheerleading, she sits in her wheelchair to spin and dance.
Alas, the girl born without legs or arms below the elbow missed the cut each time. What her parents saw were "scoring errors" that keep the handicapped at a disadvantage. They, and an attorney citing the Americans With Disabilities Act, aired their grievance with the School Board this week, asking it to "adopt policies specifying that such discrimination won't be tolerated and that the district will make accommodations to avoid it."
Well, the board came from behind closed doors and declared they weren't going to hear said grievances. Superintendent Damon McDonald said accommodations "would fundamentally alter the cheerleading program."
"We would agree that there are some activities such as football where the ability to run and tackle are fundamental to the sport," Kevin Schneider, a Lincoln attorney representing the Sullivans, said. "Making reasonable accommodations and modifications for cheerleading are not fundamental in that same way." ...
Julia wants people to recognize that she can do it. "They haven't seen me," she said. "They just have it in their mind that I can't do it."
Cheerleading case stirs up dispute [Omaha Herald-World]