Video shows Denver high school cheerleaders held down, forced into splits

DENVER -- An investigation is underway by Denver Public Schools and the Denver Police Department over an exercise used at cheer practices at a high school this summer.

In video that has been widely circulated on social media, several cheerleaders at East High School can be seen being pushed down into forced splits by the new cheer coach while their arms are held up by fellow teammates.

One girl is seen crying out in pain and asked the coach several times to "please, stop."

In a letter to East High School parents, DPS superintendent Tom Boasberg said principal Andy Mendelsberg, assistant principal Lisa Porter, cheer coach Ozell Williams, assistant cheer coach Mariah Cladis and DPS deputy general counsel Michael Hickman have been placed on leave during the investigation.

"We absolutely prohibit any practices that place our students’ physical and mental health in jeopardy," Boasberg wrote. "We do not and will not allow any situation in which a student is forced to perform an activity or exercise beyond the point at which they express their desire to stop."