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Cheerleaders Sue School to Get Back on Team

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CN) - Two cheerleaders sued a southwest Missouri school district after being kicked off the squad for allegations of cyber-bullying. The cheerleaders say the Seneca school district violated their constitutional rights by booting them off the squad.

No charges were filed against the girls by the Newton County Sheriff's Department after an investigation into the cyber-bullying allegations, according to the federal complaint.

The girls, identified only as P.A. and K.E., say they have suffered alienation from fellow students and cheerleaders since they were kicked off the cheerleading squad in June this year. They say they "were punished for conduct alleged, but yet not proven in any administrative hearing or court of law, to have occurred off campus and not on school time."

They say their school principal, Tosha Fox, "humiliated the plaintiffs by calling special attention to them before a gathering of students during the month of August 2010 and providing information to the Seneca News Dispatch, a local newspaper, on or about the 30th of June, 2010." And they say that "the District has unlawfully sought to require the plaintiffs to sign a bullying contract."

The complaint contains no other elucidation of the alleged cyber-bullying.

They seek punitive damages for privacy invasion and violation of their right to freedom of association, free speech, due process and an education.

They are represented by Jason Shackelford of Centralia, Mo.

The Seneca R-VII School District and its board, Superintendent Rick Cook, Principal Tosha Fox and seven board members were named as defendants.

The district's attorney, Tom Mickes, told The Joplin Globe that several court rulings have found that extracurricular activities are not protected under the Constitution.

Sports coaches regularly kick players off teams for violating team rules off campus, such as drinking or using drugs.

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