Dubuque Hempstead cheerleaders can attend nationals - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque Hempstead cheerleaders can attend nationals

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- After a week of debate between parents, students and the Dubuque Community School District, the Dubuque Hempstead cheerleading team can attend a national competition in Orlando, Florida.

The team qualified for the national competition through a regional competition that was held in Des Moines in December.

Superintendent Larie Godinez originally denied the trip saying the rules require 6 months notification on trips outside the state of Iowa. Many argued that it was impossible to predict a bid to nationals. This is also the first time Hempstead has qualified. They are the only school in Dubuque to do so.

On Jan. 10, the Dubuque Community School Board voted on whether or not to allow the cheerleaders to go to nationals.  More than 20 people spoke on behalf of the Hempstead squad including members of the Wahlert and Senior cheerleader squads along with many parents and community members.The measure failed on a 3-3 vote, with board member Larry Loeppke absent.

Godinez defended her decision, saying that the trip was never brought to her attention, the field trip policy was not followed, the competition is not a state sanctioned event and it's a pay-to-play profit organization known as Varsity.

The group had already paid a $100 non-refundable fee each to secure a spot. The school said they would refund that money, but wasn't sure where it would come from.

The school board then met on Jan. 14, and granted the superintendent flexibility in field trip policy interpretation.

On Thursday, Dr. Godinez granted permission for the squad to go on the trip based on conditions that were agreed on by the coach.  Those conditions include increased oversight on all aspects of the trip by Hempstead and district administration and completion of trip forms per the policy.

"I followed the policy as it was set forth by the Board, and maintained my legal obligation to interpret and administer that policy.  Admittedly, the policy is cumbersome and needs revision.  That is no fault of the students, and they did get caught in the middle of this situation.  I am pleased that the Board worked together to offer an option to grant exceptions to this policy until a new policy is developed and presented to the board," Dr. Godinez said in a written statement.

The rule is fairly new, created in August 2010, but district administrators will bring revisions of the policy before the school board in the near future. 

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