East High School assistant principal resigns; principal retires amid controversy over forced splits

DENVER – Not long after East High School students, parents and alumni gathered to demand officials be reinstated, Denver Public Schools officials provided an update, saying Principal Andy Mendelsberg would retire. 

In addition to that announcement, Assistant Principal Lisa Porter, who also served as the athletic director, has resigned. Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg said DPS Deputy General Counsel Michael Huckman had been reinstated following an investigation.

Mendelsberg and Porter were placed on administrative leave last month following the release of a video depicting an East High School cheerleader crying out in pain as the cheer coach held her into a split position. Ozell Williams, the cheer coach seen in the video, was fired.

The findings from the investigation, conducted by an outside law firm, were released Friday and came after the district was made aware of the distressing video.

The report describes in painful detail over multiple months how Mendeslberg and Porter failed to take sufficient actions to ensure the emotional and physical health of students in the cheerleading program, Boasberg said.

Boasberg said the two also failed to take allegations of physical emotional abuse against Williams seriously, including allegations Williams bullied and humiliated girls during practice. Students also alleged Williams forced injured girls to practice, but nothing was apparently done, the report states.

The independent investigation talked to 30 people, including students in the cheerleading program and their families. 

East High School Assistant Cheer coach, Mariah Cladis, was also reinstated Friday after the report found she was not present during the alleged abuse. 

Protesters outside DPS Friday held signs reading, “East needs Andy," and "Angels want Mendelsberg back NOW!" 

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