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Teen bullied after Estero cheer coach firing?

Teen bullied after Estero cheer coach firing?

By Matt Grant. CREATED Dec 15, 2011

ESTERO, Fla. - The firing of Estero High's cheer coach has angered many at the school. But are some taking their frustrations too far turning backlash into bullying?

"Girls cause drama and girls get upset," said Estero senior and former varsity captain Hailey Claudio. "And [they] let their emotions get the best of them."

After Nicole Zivich was fired, Sue Jacobse - who bombarded the district with complaints against the coach - told the school board her daughter was facing retaliation.

"My daughter's at home crying because people have said some pretty mean things on Facebook," said Jacobse. "They can blame me and hate me I don't care. But I just ask that they be kind to my daughter."

According to emails, Jacobse was warned by the school's principal that her daughter could face bullying if she went public with her continued complaints against Zivich.

"I do not want your daughter to become the victim of Facebook or a slam blog," Estero Principal George Clover wrote in an email to Jacobse dated Aug. 11. "Young adults can be very ruthless."

Claudio, holding her blue Estero Mustangs uniform, was one of about 20 girls to quit the team in protest after Zivich was fired.

"I've had teachers tell me they really support what we're doing," said Claudo. "And they think standing up for what we believe in is good."

In addition to quitting, some girls turned to Facebook venting frustrations against Jacobse and the school board.

"Maybe the way of going about it wasn't so good," said Claudio. "But it wasn't anything like threatening or mean-spirited. It was really just voicing their opinions" about the situation.

The school's resource officer thought those opinions "borded on cyber-bullying" and threatened to take legal action if it continued, according to Claudio.

The officer called the girls in one-by-one telling them it was a "serious matter" and that they "can't be posting things on Facebook," said Claudio, who said the SRO added, "You can't be saying things to the girl like, 'Oh your mom's crazy,' and stuff like that."

"Are kids saying that to this daughter?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"Not directly," said Claudo. "But they are saying it."

Claudio says the Facebook "status updates" she has seen have been deleted. Zivich doesn't think the daughter is actually being bullied but says if it is happening it needs to stop.

Matt Grant
mgrant@fox4now.com