Parents of a group of Mountain View High School cheerleaders are angry at Alpine District administrators, who, they say, are treating the students unfairly.

The parents' complaints began when school district officials denied the cheerleaders' request to be excused from school for four days to travel to a national cheerleading competition in Florida. An Alpine policy limits such absences to three school days, but the parents wanted an exception because the group's travel costs would have been lower if they were allowed to leave a day earlier.Parents were disappointed when the district denied their request but some became angry when they learned a group of Orem High School students was allowed to miss five consecutive school days recently to participate in a government-oriented field trip in Washington, D.C., during which they attended the president's inauguration.

One parent, Alberta Hall, said she believes the district has a double standard.

"The policy states students can't miss more than three consecutive days. For them to bend the rules because they're going to the inauguration doesn't really seem like it's equitable," Hall said. "We're to the point now that we feel like we can't fight City Hall. If they're not going to make any exceptions, then I feel like Orem High falls into that category."

Alpine Superintendent Steven Baugh disagrees. He said the Orem students' trip was part of a program sponsored by the Washington-based Close-Up Foundation, a program supported by the State School Board and the State Office of Education.

The Alpine School Board gave the program its approval in 1983, and since that time, groups going on that trip have not been required to pre-sent their itineraries to the board for approval. It is the only program Alpine has given blanket approval.

"There is no year-by-year, school-by-school board approval for Close-Up program (trips)," Baugh said. "It's defined as an extension of the regular curriculum, as opposed to an extracurricular activity. It's closely tied to the U.S. history curriculum."

Hall said she's not satisfied with that explanation.

"As a parent, I feel like some of the reasons we've gotten for their actions are hard to understand," she said. "I wonder at times if cheerleading is not a high priority item. It's becoming a sport in itself, and these kids have worked hard for nine months to get to that competition."

The district's decision to limit the cheerleading trip to three school days will not keep the group from participating in the competition. It may cost the girls a little extra because they will have to pay higher airline fares, and they will probably have to cancel plans to tour the Kennedy Space Center.

Baugh said the policy that limits absences for field trips was debated heavily before it was approved, and is meant to make sure extracurricular activities do not overshadow education. Making numerous exceptions to a carefully crafted policy would defeat its purpose, he said.