Shaler teen’s dream of cheering cut short; parents say it was due to discrimination

PITTSBURGH — Shaler Area freshman Angelina Gizzi had dreams to twirl her baton and cheer on her school as a majorette. She prepared for tryouts by practicing for hours — and even hired a private coach. But after she auditioned for the team, she didn’t make the cut.

“I think it’s discrimination, among other things,” said Gizzi’s mother, Toni Gizzi. “I just, I don’t understand why it was everyone that tried out, and it was two freshmen. One was taken, and one wasn’t.”

Toni Gizzi told Channel 11 that her daughter has an intellectual disability, and it is something that the district is well aware of. The district even created an individualized education plan for her.

“It’s saying that she can participate in sports and not be excluded from anything. And they should properly give her an aid to help her succeed in anything she wants to do at Shaler,” Toni Gizzi said.

When she approached the district to ask why her daughter wouldn’t become a Shaler Area majorette, it stated that it didn’t want an aid on the field and thought the noise from the crowd would be too overwhelming for Angelina Gizzi.

Channel 11 reached out to the district about the matter, and it had this to say:

“Shaler Area makes every attempt to be inclusive in all educational and extracurricular activities and provide accommodations for all of our students to be successful. Unfortunately, we are not able to comment on specific student matters, however, we can share that the school district is open to working with our families.”

Toni Gizzi’s message for her daughter is to keep on twirling. She also has this message for the district:

“This year, they are going to Disney, and I personally think they wanted the perfect squad. Shame on you. That’s all I can say.”