Teen with Down syndrome ‘devastated’ after being left out of cheerleading team’s school photo

The school has applogised for the ‘mistake’ after it was called out for ‘deliberate’ exclusion

Shweta Sharma
Thursday 17 June 2021 14:32
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A Utah teen was left “devastated” when she flipped through the pages of her school’s yearbook to discover that she had been left out of the cheerleading squad’s photo.

Morgyn Arnold, a 14-year-old student with Down syndrome, realised she was not only excluded from the picture with her teammates at Shoreline Junior High School, but that her name was also not there in the list of squad members.

Her sister Jordyn Poll, 25, shared a picture of the squad including Morgyn alongside the image that ended up making it to the yearbook, where her sister is missing from the front row.

Calling out the school in a Facebook post, she wrote: “It’s the SAME cheer team – SAME girls, SAME photo shoot, SAME poses, but one included all team members and one did not.”

Shoreline Junior High School has apologised for what happened, calling the photo selection a “mistake”.

But Ms Poll said her sister had been “deliberately sidelined”.

“I hope that no one ever has to experience the heartbreak that comes when the person they love comes home from school devastated and shows them that they’re not in the picture with their team,” Ms Poll said.

“I hope that no one ever has to explain why people deliberately choose to be exclusive.”

Jordyn Poll shared the two pictures, one with her sister posing with her teammates and another without her that made it into the yearbook

Ms Poll said she believed it was intentional as similar choices had been made “multiple times” and she was excluded “every single time”.

“This is the second time in three years that sweet Morgyn has been left out of the yearbook. Two years ago they didn’t even include her in the class list,” she added.

Ms Poll told The Salt Lake Tribune that her sister knew what had happened and it had left her sad and hurt.

The Facebook post showing both the pictures has been shared 7,000 times on the social media platform so far, with some commentators calling the exclusion a form of “bullying”.

The school apologised in a post on Facebook, saying it was looking into how the “error” happened.

"We are deeply saddened by the mistake that was made," the school said. "We are continuing to look at what has occurred and why it occurred. Apologies have been made to the family and we sincerely apologise to others impacted by this error.

“We will continue to address it with the parents of the student. We will continue to look at our processes to ensure this does not happen again," the statement read.

But Ms Poll said the school administrator had appeared “ignorant” in its dealings with the family, and had “blatantly said they didn’t know what we were expecting of them and there was nothing they could do”.

She added that Morgyn’s cheerleading teammates were still her friends and had been supportive of her, blaming the decision to exclude her sister on the school administration.

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