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Police investigate suspension of two Danvers cheerleaders
By Melissa Beecher and Jill Harmacinski
Staff writers

DANVERS - Police are investigating an incident involving two Danvers High School cheerleaders who have been suspended from the squad.

The two 16-year-old basketball cheerleaders are accused of violating a policy in the student handbook outlining the behavior required of student athletes. The policy says students must be "positive role models" and "conduct themselves in a manner that is becoming of the student body, the school and the community of Danvers."

Superintendent Lisa Dana yesterday refused to elaborate on the details surrounding the case but said the two girls were not suspended from classes. Dana said the girls were "excluded" from participating in cheerleading until the investigation is complete.

"Because of the nature of this investigation, all I can say is that the School Department is working with the Police Department," Dana said. She said the incident did not occur at the school.

John Sullivan, athletic director at Danvers High, said both girls have appealed their suspensions.

"Two students are in trouble. They are two kids that made a mistake and will face consequences," Sullivan said. "Two girls made a bad decision and, unfortunately, the media has decided to make this a big deal."

The situation escalated yesterday when a Fox TV news truck showed up at the school and began filming students, asking questions about an alleged videotape involving the two cheerleaders. Then, a Channel 5 reporter and cameraman and a Salem News reporter went to the high school gymnasium last night where a basketball game was taking place, but were told by Sullivan they could not go inside if they were working on stories about the cheerleaders' suspensions.

They were then asked to leave the property.

Danvers police Patrolman Edward Campbell confirmed last night the police are involved.

"All I know is that it's under investigation," Campbell said. " I have no copies. No videotape."

He referred all questions to Danvers spokesman Capt. Neil Ouellette, who did not return a message left at the station yesterday.

News of the basketball cheerleaders' troubles comes less than three weeks after two Danvers High football cheerleaders were suspended for drinking before a playoff game in Beverly. Those two girls, both 17, were arrested during what police described as an alcohol-fueled disturbance before the Danvers-Walpole game, before 4,612 fans at Endicott College.

Sullivan said approximately 60 girls from the high school participate in junior varsity and varsity cheerleading squads for three seasons.

School Committee Chairwoman Jean McCartin and Danvers High Assistant Principal Margaret McLaughlin refused to comment on what happened. Principal Eileen Erwin did not return repeated phone calls.

Steve O'Connell, spokesman for Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, said their office is not involved in the investigation.

Staff writer Mike Puffer contributed to this story.

Staff reporter Jill Harmacinski can be reached at (978) 338-2652 or by e-mail at [email protected].
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