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No riding on floats in high school homecoming parades
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(Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original version.)

The Richmond Hill and Bryan County high school homecoming parades will not include students riding on floats and could be limited to the schools’ campuses this year.

Superintendent Paul Brooksher made the announcement at the school board’s work session Thursday night. Richmond Hill’s parade and game are scheduled for Sept. 16, while Bryan County’s is Oct. 21. Discussions are ongoing regarding the parades.

The parents of Jayden Fortner, who was a freshman cheerleader a year ago, filed suit against Bryan County Schools and several school employees involved with the cheerleading program after she injured her right foot while riding on a trailer being towed behind a vehicle during the Oct. 22, 2015, homecoming parade.

The lawsuit, filed July 20 in Chatham County State Court, says cheerleaders were instructed to sit on the edges of the trailer with their legs and feet hanging off the side. The suit claims Fortner’s foot became stuck in a wheel of the trailer as the parade approached the football field and that the vehicle traveled another 20 to 30 feet. She was transported to the hospital afterward and underwent surgery. The board also learned Thursday night that the district’s $1 million fleet policy with Auto-Owners Insurance will represent the district and the named employees in the suit.

The suit asks for a jury trial and that the “plaintiffs be awarded an appropriate sum to compensate for their minor child’s injuries and damages.”

(More information about the suit is available at

“Many of the groups in the parade already walk, including the band and the football team,” Brooksher said.

Richmond Hill’s parade previously started at the South Bryan County Recreation Center on Timber Trail and proceeded to Harris Trail, then to the high school. Bryan County’s parade was through downtown Pembroke.

Joe Pecenka, school board vice chair, encouraged administrators to plan the events carefully due to the high volume of vehicles and spectators that will have to fit onto the school campuses as opposed to being spread out along the parade route as in years past.

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