An investigation into the Laurel High School cheerleading coach after an incident during an overnight summer camp in West Virginia concluded a lack of communication but that no students were ever left unsupervised.
The matter was the main topic of concern at last Tuesday’s school board meeting when 15 of the about 75 attendees spoke out either in support of coach and high school science teacher Jenn Horodyski or alleged a lack of concern from the school, school board and administration.
“At this time, the board has taken no action to terminate any of the coaches, head coach or assistants, in the cheerleading program,” Superintendent Len Rich said by phone Tuesday.
During an overnight camp in West Virginia in June, the cheer team was staying at a hotel in Triadelphia. At different points, a woman interacted with the cheerleaders in what was described at the meeting as in an inappropriate manner in multiple instances. Former cheer coach, Jacque Holman, described it as “stalking,” while Rich said his understanding was it was more of a woman going through personal issues who was looking for someone to talk to and ended up divulging too much personal information.
“We did need to do an investigation,” Rich said.
That investigation was led by high school principal Mark Frengel, who interviewed the four chaperones and more than 20 girls to get a comprehensive understanding of the events and find consistencies among all the points of view. Frengel followed up with the West Virginia county sheriff and no reports or citations were made against the woman.
“In conclusion if you will, there was a hotel guest that made some uncomfortable comments and exhibited some uncomfortable behaviors,” Rich said.
Rich said communication between the coaches and chaperones to the school could have been better, but admitted it’s easier to judge after the fact than when the situation is currently happening. He also said some girls had a more heightened level of concern and others didn’t know anything happened until the coach addressed it.
Of the 15 people to speak at last week’s meeting, one father, Rob Capezio, alleged there was unwanted touching, advances and that the woman followed the girls into a hotel elevator. Capezio’s daughter, Josalyn, said the situation was poorly handled.
“I feel failed,” she said. “It makes my stomach sick.”
Cheerleader Madison Michaels spoke on behalf of Horodyski and added the coach sat outside one of the girl’s room until 3 a.m. to keep her safe. When the woman tried to interact with the girls in the hotel hot tub, the coach texted them to tell them to come upstairs. She also described the woman as just wanting someone to talk to.
“At no time were girls without a chaperone on site, the competition site or the hotel site,” Rich said. “With an adolescent field trip, there may be times where the chaperone is not in physical sight of the students but they are but a call or text away.”
Horodyski led the Lady Spartans to a WPIAL Class A cheerleading championship in 2020 and the team advanced to the state semifinals. Horodyski has been the head coach at Laurel since 2014. She previously won a District 10 title while serving as head coach at Wilmington in 2014.