The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

ELHS cheerleading coach Dana Graham fired for disturbing text messages sent to cheer group chat

Dana+Graham+during+cheer+practice
Photo by Joelle King
Dana Graham during cheer practice

On Nov. 30,  Activities and Athletic Directors Nikki Norris sent out an email to ELHS cheer parents addressing the dismissal of cheer coach Dana Graham. In this email along with the announcement, Norris apologized on behalf of ELHS  for “the impact that her communication had on our Cheer family.”

This dismissal was in regard to a series of text messages sent in a cheer group chat days prior. Cheerleader Leylianna Moreno (11) contacted Graham via personal text message on Nov.29 regarding ideas she had for a holiday-themed cheer practice. Graham was quick to agree and gave Moreno the okay to talk to her teammates about said ideas in a shared group message. Excited to share her ideas, Moreno went to talk to the rest of her team. 

“I went to the group chat,” Moreno said. “And when I went in, she sent the screenshot already. So I was like, okay, cool. She just did it for me.” 

Along with the screenshot of Moreno and Graham’s exchange was a message from Graham that said “When you’re exhausted and feeling like the kids hated you for your first year, and then the biggest pain in your ass sends this…” The message was quickly retracted by Graham when she realized her mistake. 

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Moreno screenshotted the message before it was deleted. When cheerleaders noticed, they were quick to ask questions about Graham’s message. Moreno informed them all about what was said. 

“I was shocked,” Sanariya Lane (11) said. “I was like, she thinks this about Leylianna, What does she think about the rest of us?”

Graham then replied to their messages stating the message was meant for a coaching friend, and she did not mean to call anyone names. An apology was then sent out to Moreno’s mom Tasha Potter as well as the rest of the cheer parents. However, Potter didn’t think this was enough. 

“I received her lackluster apology via email,” Potter said. “And felt it was extremely disingenuous.”

Later that night, Potter made a Facebook post. In this post, she shared the entirety of the situation to her followers and friends along with screenshots of the messages. This post was shared by 118 people.

“I called a lot of news channels who wanted to come out,” Potter said. “But I shortly learned that my daughter didn’t want that level of visibility.”

Principal Ashley Schwarzbeck called Potter to express her apology along with telling her that Norris would be in contact with her soon. 

“It did sound like she was very disappointed and she was taking this seriously,” Potter said.

Norris called the next day providing her direct line for communication. She also provided Potter and her daughter with updates about the process. They were also the first to hear about the dismissal of Moreno’s former cheer coach.
In the future, Moreno hopes that awareness is brought to situations that involve coaches and athletes.

“Because nowhere does anybody think that this is okay,” Moreno said.

In a separate email from Portrait, Schwarzbek acknowledged that she had no further statement on the situation, as it was a personnel issue.

Emails sent to both Norris and Graham were not responded to as of the afternoon of Friday, Dec. 1. 

This is a developing news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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About the Contributor
Joelle King, Photography Editor
Joelle King is in the class of 2025 and is a Photography Editor for Portrait.  This is her second year on staff as a junior.  Joelle's favorite thing about journalism is telling stories through video. When she is not in the newsroom, Joelle loves competitive dancing and reading.

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