U.S. Department of Education investigates discrimination complaint at Lowndes High School

| March 17, 2016


VALDOSTA – The U.S Department of Education is investigating a complaint that Lowndes High School officials discriminated against black students in selecting students for the school’s varsity and junior varsity football cheerleading squad.

The investigation stems from a complaint made by Ronda Scott, a parent of an LHS cheerleader.

On Feb. 17, Scott sent a list of complaints to the USDE Office for Civil Rights claiming school officials discriminated and retaliated against her daughter and claimed black students are discouraged from applying for the football cheerleading squad and are steered to the basketball squad instead.

In a reply to Scott, the Office for Civil Rights said it is opening an investigation into her claims.

The complaint includes the following accusations:

  • The process for selecting cheerleaders for the Junior Varsity (JV) squad was discriminatory and resulted in the selection of all white students to the JV squad.
  • White students were informed of the option to participate in the tryouts for both the Varsity and JV squads and allowed to participate in both tryouts, in violation of the school’s written policy; however, the student was not informed of this option or allowed to participate in both tryouts.
  • Retaliating against the student by giving her a “prank gift” for an award at a banquet, which was visible; however, the white cheerleaders received gifts that were in boxes and wrapped.
  • Retaliating against the student by denying her the opportunity to lead a cheer during the entire season, which lasted from August 2015 to February 2016.
  • Retaliating against the student in October 2015 by informing the white cheerleaders at the school to assist the middle school cheer squad, but not providing the Student with notice of the same opportunity.
  • Retaliating against the student during the 2015-2016 football season by not including her parents’ sponsorship ad in the football ad book.

Sources have told Valdosta Today that many of the claims are questionable.

The “prank gift,” which was a basket containing a foam football and sour candies, was reportedly given to each of the cheerleaders during the banquet.

The October 2015 visit to assist middle school cheerleaders was reportedly only open to senior cheerleaders. Ninth grade students were not invited to attend.

Sources also tell Valdosta Today that no cheerleader is guaranteed the opportunity to lead cheers.

The Office of Civil Rights will be investigating the merits of Scott’s complaints against the school.

Lowndes County School officials did not immediately respond to a request for a comment late Tuesday night, and it is unclear if the school has received a copy of the complaint from the USDE.

On Monday night, Scott and her husband, former University of Georgia football star Lindsay Scott, appealed to the Lowndes Board of Education, seeking what they described as “justifiable responses on why the school system of 3,000 students has only 16 students on its junior varsity or varsity cheer squads, compared to a neighboring school rival with 23 cheerleaders.”

The Scotts said high school cheer squads are often a requirement for college-level cheer consideration and that the LHS cheer selection process “has placed Afro-American girls at grave disadvantage.”



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13 Comments on "U.S. Department of Education investigates discrimination complaint at Lowndes High School"

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  1. Eric "Da Blacksheep" TrixNDix says:

    Special Snowflakes strike again…..

  2. Scott says:

    The accusations listed are actually pretty accurate according to my peers. I graduated from lowndes high and the girls were complaining of the same treatment. The black girls were discouraged to try out for the football cheerleading squad and they were encouraged to wait until basketball season to give cheerleading a try. It’s crazy how segregated things are nowadays. When I was in school , the whole varsity football squad was white and the whole varsity basketball squad was black.

    • Brown says:

      I am a student at Lowndes High and I am glad this issue has finally came to the light. I have been cheering since I was 4 and have been offered to cheer for the National Cheerleading Association but when I tried out for the Varsity Football squad, I didn’t make it. Girls who I cheered with who were white made it and girls who had older sisters who where on the team made it. The squad was pretty much picked before tryouts ended. Since I’ve been here it’s been 2 black cheerleaders and the rest were white. It’s all about who you know, how much money you have, and whether you’re white or black; talent doesn’t matter.

  3. Bart says:

    Lowndes County – Mississippi’s easternmost county.

    Good Lord, get it together.

  4. Bart says:

    Oh, and Lindsay Scott is a Georgia treasure. One of UGA’s most famous players.

    This needs the obligatory

    “Gonna throw on the run—complete on the 25. To the 30, Lindsay Scott 35, 40, Lindsay Scott 45, 50, 45, 40—Run, Lindsay!–25, 20, 15, 10, 5, Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott! Lindsay Scott!!”

  5. Former Valdosta Resident says:

    I went to high school in Valdosta and I can tell you this is woman’s complaints are absolutely accurate. There is an unspoken tradition of discrimination at this school and I am not surprised at this investigation. The only issue is news outlets such as here are quick to dismiss and negate any hint of alleged discrimination because they’re part of the problem in Valdosta. I wish them luck and I hope the student will be given the same opportunity to pursue her interests as any other student.

  6. Nasus says:

    Amazing. When I attended LHS in the 70’s there was TWO groups of Cheerleaders for the school year. Varsity and Junior Varsity. FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL all the same. AND we had Black Cheerleaders. I think people look for reasons to scream racism anymore. Sad. Either you make the squad or you dont.

  7. Robert says:

    Surely this can’t be happening in 2016? This is craziness!!! Oh well, life must go on. Things will never change and complaining about it does nothing. You’re right. it is all about who you know, how much money you have and all that jazz. Guy, we’re in the South…Not CA here. Learn and move on. Kids go to school to learn, not cheerlead. This is an extra-curricular activity. It won’t define who she is, whether or not she graduates, or what college she will be accepted to. 5 years from now, no one will care that she was on the cheerleading squad or varsity team. Do any of you remember who all was on your varsity teams? Do any of you really care. Teach you child to work hard and do well in school, and not complain about making a cheerleading team that no one will ever care about after high school. Teach her that life is unfair and cruel and help her to grow to be independent when she moves out on her own. Don’t teach her to cry foul when she doesn’t get that promotion for not being white. Teach her to get the promotion based on her merits instead.

    • Bart says:

      Good Lord. Discrimination is a big deal, especially to a child at her school (doesn’t matter if you think cheerleading is important). You’re basically saying that people should just sit back and accept being discriminated against, not only at school, but later on in life at their jobs? Wow.

  8. Who Didn't See It Coming? says:

    Background: I’m a white male, graduate of Lowndes from the mid 90’s, with two children who currently attend Lowndes. I have been going to the football games for years, and have wondered exactly when someone would bring this issue up. How in the world at a school like Lowndes, given the demographics, can there only be one non-white cheerleader every year or two?

    I think there are way to many times when people call discrimination for any reason under the sun, but there is no way you can tell me that this is not a valid complaint. I don’t think this is necessarily a statement about LHS as a whole, but most certainly there is discrimination going on in the cheerleading. Having an all white cheerleading squad every once in a while could be considered an anomaly, but year in and year out, it is discrimination.

    I hope that those responsible are held accountable for their actions, whether that be the cheerleading coaches, athletic director, principals, board members or whoever; there should be accountability. I promise you, if I noticed how strange it was for the cheerleaders to always be white, then those in authority must have noticed also, and they had a responsibility to address it.

  9. Mary Bolton says:

    Not again,, why do the school I graduate from keep on and on doing things against Black kids I don’ understand WHAT is the problem.. GOD made all of us. I am ashame of what I here I don’t want anyone,anymore to know this is the school I went to SAD,SAD.. God help them.

    • Grammar Police says:

      Correction: “Why does the school that I graduated from….” Clearly grammar instruction wasn’t a part of the curriculum during that tenure” So long…standard english..a lost art! CARRYON

  10. Current valdosta resident says:

    Its always the race card…..people simply need to move on and let the racism card die. Not one of these students, or even their parents were subject to slavery or true racism in that era. Stand up for yourself and quit putting your hand out waiting for others to put something in it.