Police are investigating a Denver high school after disturbing videos emerged of high school cheerleaders screaming in pain after being forced into splits during practice.
KUSA reports that several Denver East High School cheerleading coaches and school administrators have been placed on leave as a result of the ongoing investigation.
The officials placed on leave include Principal Andy Mendelsberg, Assistant Principal Lisa Porter, Cheer Coach Ozell Williams, Assistant Cheer Coach Mariah Cladis, and Denver Public Schools attorney Michael Hickman.
The videos, filmed during cheer camp in June, show eight different cheerleaders pushed into splits by their coaches while their teammates hold up their arms. Because the coaches and teammates are holding them down, the cheerleaders are unable to get themselves out of the extended split positions.
One video shows cheerleader Ally Wakefield pleading for her coach to stop nine times throughout the 24-second video.
“Please stop!” she repeatedly screams as she cries out in pain.
Wakefield and other cheerleaders suffered torn ligaments and other injuries as a result of these forced splits.
KUSA reports that two team members shot the videos on their phones and sent them anonymously to the television station.
Denver Public Schools superintendent Tom Boasberg released a statement Wednesday reiterating the school district’s commitment to keeping students safe and confirming that an investigation into the incidents is ongoing.
“We do not and will not allow any situation in which a student is forced to perform an activity or exercise beyond the point at which they express their desire to stop,” the statement reads.
“With regards to certain videos, I cannot state strongly enough—as the superintendent of the school district and the father of two high school-aged daughters—that the images and actions depicted are extremely distressing and absolutely contrary to our core values as a public school community.” Boasberg’s statement concluded.