The family of a Utah teen with Down syndrome says they’re grateful for the support she’s received from friends and the community after she wasn’t included in the cheerleading team photo used in her school’s yearbook.
Morgyn Arnold, 14, was the manager for the Shoreline Junior High School cheer squad, her father Jeffrey Arnold told CNN. She would attend games and cheer and participate in other activities to boost school spirit, he said.
She posed for one photo with the team and was seated in the middle of the front row, her father said. When she got her yearbook on the last day of eighth grade, she realized a different photo that didn’t include her was used, her dad said.
“She walked in and she shows it to me, she says ‘I’m not here, but these are my friends and I love them,’” Jeffrey Arnold told CNN.
The Davis School District apologized in a statement.
“We are deeply saddened by the mistake that was made. We are continuing to look at what has occurred and why it occurred. Apologies have been made to the family and we sincerely apologize 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 said.
Arnold said he’d had positive conversations with school officials since the yearbook came out and hopes they can take action to make sure this doesn’t happen again to Morgyn or any other child. He said he didn’t want to point fingers or talk about who was responsible.
“I am optimistic by the empathetic conversations that are starting to be engaged in to help impact change to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” he said.
Since the yearbook came out, Arnold said the other girls on the team have rallied around Morgyn.
Arnold said the cheerleaders and their families have had to deal with some “very malicious hate and disgusting comments” on social media, and he’s begging people to stop.
“The outpouring and rallying of love by the girls, these cheerleaders, only shows very distinctly that these girls, these cheerleaders were Morgyn’s friends, they were inclusive of her and continue to be and they were just as disappointed to see this,” Arnold said.
“They’re showing, through their example, the proper way to support and help in situations like this and others are making it worse by their hatred and the nastiness of their comments.”
Arnold said Morgyn would be back at the school next year for ninth grade, but said he didn’t know if she would be involved with cheerleading.
CNN’s Chris Boyette contributed to this story.