School investigates McKinley cheer squad for cyberbullying

School investigates McKinley cheer squad for cyberbullying

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mariah Newton's senior season on McKinley High School's cheerleading squad has turned into a bummer.

"They just said, 'We got more reports of you guys bullying so we're shutting you guys down.' That's basically what they said," she said.

Since Friday, the pep squad has been banned from practicing together, wearing their uniforms, and fundraising while the school and DOE investigate alleged cyberbullying connected to the team.

"I know that some are involved. Whether they're the receiver or the giver, I'm sorry, this is what we're investigating," DOE Complex Area Superintendent Ruth Silberstein said.

But the cheerleaders insist they are innocent.

"There's no cyber bullies on our cheer squad, jayvee or varsity. And we have not bullied in any other form," cheerleader Mahealani Wilson said.

Mariah's father insists the school is treating the team unfairly. Daren Newton claims McKinley did nothing when football players assaulted a student, and when volleyball players verbally bullied cheerleaders.

"We're not against the punishment handed down. But what we're bringing to attention is the inequities between what's going on in that school between the programs." he said.

There are 48 cheerleaders on the pep squad, 35 on the varsity and 13 on the jayvee team.

"I put four years into this team. We basically built this team up from nothing," Mariah Newton said.

"It upsets us when it's just shut down out of nowhere," Wilson said.

Daren Newton said the cheerleaders pay for their uniforms and other cheer gear, so suspending fundraising hurts.

"They're not just punishing them, they're punishing us as parents because we can't even fund raise to offset the cost they're not providing," he said.

Parents were told to expect to hear who gets punished and how next week.

"It goes to the principal, and the principal will make the final decision," Silberstein said.

Until then McKinley's cheerleaders are on pins and needles, not on the sidelines.

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