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NORMAL - The future of the Normal Community West High School pom squad remains uncertain more than a month after the team members quit, but some parents are still pushing for action.

All 15 members of the squad resigned last month, saying they couldn't work with the coach, Rebecca Franks, anymore. Several parents said the students quit because of what the parents called "verbal abuse" from the coach.

Now the parents fear the school is just letting the issue fade away. Unit 5 superintendent Alan Chapman said the future of the team will be decided at the end of this school year.

"I feel strongly on this issue and feel the children have been let down by a school that followed the easy way out," John Martin, father of a pom squad member, said Tuesday.

"The school administration has not notified me of any new events," he said. "They pretty much pushed it out of the way and hoped it would die down to my knowledge."

Parents keep in touch through the "pom tree" e-mail thread, he said.

Franks declined to comment on where things stand now, as did Normal West Principal Tom Eder.

Pom squad members also have declined to comment since their departure went public. Martin said fellow students and even some teachers had criticized the students for telling their story to the media.

The Normal West Poms, who do not use pompoms, dance in competition and for basketball games.

This season is over, and next season remains in limbo.

Unit 5 school district administrators said earlier that the pom squad dancers could continue if they kept the same coach, and staff could attend the practices.

The dancers have said they want to return to the squad but with a new coach. They previously said it was never their intention to hurt Franks, but they could not work with her again.

The breaking point for most of the dancers was at a Saturday practice on Jan. 14 when the coach got angry and told the team to leave the building. The students were upset and met at one of the member's house afterward. The following Monday, 14 members resigned. One had resigned earlier.

"I am pretty disappointed," said Martin, father of Kayla Hall, 15, who is sophomore in her first year of the squad.

School employees involved in the pom program will meet before the end of the school year to see if there is interest in continuing.

"They mentioned something about a meeting before next year," Martin agreed.

The stress hasn't stopped some pom squad members from dancing, however. A couple of them tried out for the Extreme Dance Team on Saturday. The dancers chosen will perform during indoor football games at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum and related promotions.

Some pom squad members also continue dance lessons, and hope to dance in college.


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