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Parents: Teen w/Down Syndrome Barred from Cheerleading Squad

Updated: Friday, May 17 2013, 08:30 PM EDT
MARION COUNTY (Tom Bosco/Ken Hines) -- The parents of a child with Down Syndrome say their daughter is being excluded from trying out for her high school cheerleading team because of her disability.

Brian and Lisa Williams said they want their daughter, Alison, to have the same opportunities as every other girl.

Alison's mother said the 14-year-old loves cheerleading, and believes the activity benefits her daughter.

"She'll watch the other girl beside her and try to do what she's doing. I think that's so important. I think they learn so much from their typical peers," Robin Williams said.

Cheerleading at Elgin High School is non-competitive, and the squad doesn't do tumbling or pyramids. Despite these factors, Alison's parents were told their daughter has no shot at making the squad.

"We were told that Alison could try out, [but] even with accommodations she would not meet the minimum criteria to be a cheerleader," said Brian.

Robin said she was told Alison would be denied a place on the squad even if there open spots remain after the completion of tryouts.

ABC 6/FOX 28 attempted to contact district officials, but messages for the superintendent were not returned. In the past, administrators have told the press the district considers this a legal matter and can't comment.Parents: Teen w/Down Syndrome Barred from Cheerleading Squad

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