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New Suit Filed in Cheerleader Case

June 20, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

A former high school student who alleges that she was unfairly rejected during cheerleader tryouts has taken her case to federal court, claiming that the Antelope Valley school district violated her civil rights.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court by former Quartz Hill High School student Kelly Smith. The Smith family had filed a lawsuit over the matter in Los Angeles County Superior Court but withdrew the case in May, said Dermot Ryan, a paralegal for Smith's attorney, Thomas Hanrahan.

The federal suit alleges that a Quartz Hill cheerleading coach rigged Smith's scores in the 2002 tryout. It also says the coach, Tammy Stewart, was motivated by racial bias toward Smith, who is of Puerto Rican descent.

The suit seeks unspecified damages. Stewart and a number of other Antelope Valley Union High School District employees are also named as defendants.

Attorneys for Stewart and the district did not return calls seeking comment. Stewart has previously denied any wrongdoing.

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