Saturday, June 7, 2014

1987: the end of Lariaette weight limits

At the end of the school year in May 1987: 

Of Dobie drill team
Parents stand by weight limits
By Floretta Bush

Lariaette booster parents tipped the scales in favor of a drill team policy allowing weight limits Tuesday night, in the wake of allegations the policy is leading some girls to improper eating habits and to taking diet pills and laxatives to keep down their weight. 

The 33 parents present at the regular booster club meeting approved unanimously a motion of support for Dobie drill team director Patty LaTouche who last week removed a girl from the squad who was a pound overweight. 

But while parents pledged support, Pasadena ISD administration on Monday decided to put on hold the policy until July, pending consultation with physicians and a review of the weight chard being used by the district's four high schools. 

The weight chart used by Dobie and the district's three remaining high school is adapted from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company chart. Administrators are currently reviewing what may be discrepancies in the adaptation as the Metropolitan chart uses measurements based on the subject wearing two-inch heels and the district's chart goes by measuring the subject in bare feet. 

Because of the two-inch differential, in many incarnates, the district's requirements are stricter than those stated in the chart. "I fell its most important we call time out to reaffirm our weight requirements or make appropriate changes," said Frank Braden, assistant superintendent of secondary education. "I am not anxious to make any change of guidelines within standards that can be approved by the medical profession. When we do make a decision, we expect students to accept it."

The decision came after a group of parents confronted Dobie principal Jerry Speer and Braden, asking that the weight policy to be changed. 

"This issue is not settled," said Ernest Gonzalez, father of Nancy Gonzalez, who was removed from the team after performing in last weekend's annual spring show.

The administrative decision to not enforce weigh-ins for the remainder of the year included reinstating Gonzalez to the team. 

The junior weighed 119 when she was removed from the team, said her father, one pound over her allotted amount for her height and bone structure. 

Policy allowed the removal of girls if they exceed weight limits four times in the course of a year. Height and wrist measurements are used to determine proper weight ranges. 

Gonzalez, who has contacted an attorney on the matter, said by putting wright limits on hold, "they are just putting things off. They are going to have to come up with a defined plan that meets all the needs."

Added to the controversy is an allegation by one parent that her daughter became ill during a recent Strawberry Festival performance. 

Ellie Douglass last week said her daughter Shannon was medically treated the night of the performance and was told she was fatigued as a result of not eating properly. 

Gonzalez said he has had to force his daughter to eat in the past. 

"My daughter will still tell you she's mad as heck," he said. "She feels like this whole thing is her fault because she's the one that's fat."

Gonzalez said he was aware of the weight limits when his daughter joined Lariaettes, but that "I didn't realize the rule was this absurd. if you find some girl with a huge wrist, this girl gets to have a lot more weight on her body."

He added that while school records indicate his daughter is 5 feet 3 3/4 inches, he has measured her at 5 feet 4 3/4 inches. 

LaTouche said girls are measured every semester and may approach the school nurse if they feel they are measured incorrectly. 

Gonzalez said he is willing to accept compromise and is waiting to see what the administration will offer. . . .

Follow-up at the start of the 1987-88 school year:

Weight limits removed
Despite a generic set of guidelines approved last week regarding weight standards for Pasadena ISD high school drill team members, Dobie Lariaette Director Patty LaTouche says that if a girl on her team is overweight, "we can't dance around the point."

The guidelines remove weight requirements once used by all four district schools as a criteria for being on the team. Adopted following input from physicians from the Bay Area Pediatric Society, the new approach is aimed at curtailing the possibility of unsafe dieting techniques. 

A controversy arose in May concerning use of weight limits after parents claimed some girls were resorting to starvation and diet pills to keep their weight within limits. 

The policy was shortly thereafter frozen by Frank Braden, assistant superintendent of secondary education. 

The new policy allows for drill team instructors to make subjective decisions regarding a girl's status on the team based on any one or a combination of the following: dancing skill, flexibility, strength, endurance, ability to project personality,  muscular coordination, ability to function as a member of a performing unit and physical appearance. 

A girl not maintaining a level acceptable to the director may be placed on a non-participatory status. In the past, girls could be removed from the team entirely following exceeding weight limits four times in the course of a year. 

The drill team instructor is expected to counsel the student and provide guidelines for improvement. The policy reads: "The director may, at her discretion, advise the students that the loss of a small amount of weight over a reasonable period of time may improve appearance and performance ability," it states. 

Then if improvement is not noted, the director may place the student in non-participatory status. 

"I'm glad it's all settled and done," Latouche said. She added, however, that she prefers to have set criteria, "in black and white."

Instead, LaTouche will use her professional expertise to "eyeball it," she said. 

She also stated that subjective guidelines may force the girls to put more pressure on themselves. An anonymous poll among team members Monday saw 100 percent in favor of having written requirements, she said. 

Ernest Gonzelez, parent of former Lariaette Nancy Gonzalez who was removed from the team in the spring due to weight limits said he has requested a copy of the lines from PISD administration and then consult his attorney regarding possible legal action. 

His daughter was reinstated to the team in May, following the freezing of weight limitations. She quit shortly thereafter because of the attention given the matter, Gonzalez said. "A number things were involved in it," he said. 

During that time, Gonzalez had offered a compromise to PISD asking that a pediatrician determine weight limits a girl cannot exceed. 

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