Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kewaunee School Board Unanimous on Dropping Indian Mascot

Kewaunee School Board Unanimous on Dropping Indian Mascot

Updated: Aug 18, 2010 2:15 PM EDT

By Matt Smith

Two weeks after the Kewaunee School Board president announced it's abandoning the district's school logo, the full school board backed its leader. Now the community looks to move forward.

The Kewaunee school district was the first in Northeast Wisconsin challenged by a new law.

In June, a long-time Kewaunee resident and former teacher filed a complaint with the Department of Public Instruction alleging the Indians logo and name could promote discrimination, harassment, or stereotyping.

One day before a hearing with the DPI, the school board president announced the district wouldn't fight the complaint and would get rid of the Indians name and logo which has been around since 1937.

But that wasn't quite the end.

At the beginning of Monday night's school board meeting, school board president Brian Vogeltanz defended his decision to abandon the Indians moniker and announcing it publicly before a vote by the entire school board.

He says it was discussed at length with the district's attorney and residents ready to testify to the DPI.

"The consensus among those witnesses was, it was in the best interest of the district not to continue with the challenge," Vogeltanz said. "It would only result in additional costs and it would damage the district's and community's image. Plus, if the district lost at the hearing, it would take away the district's ability to control what would happen next."

The school board unanimously voted with the president's decision to immediately remove the school name and logo.

"Financially, we could just get worn down with this. This was the best decision that could be made," he said.

Already, residents volunteered to form a committee to choose a new logo, knowing full well the issue is important to so many residents.

"In order for us to move and change we've got to involve the community, and I think by involving the community the change is going to be easier," parent Sandi Christman said.

"My son's a senior in high school, and I want him to graduate with a mascot that they're proud of and not the Kewaunee no-names," she said.

Residents and students will have one month to submit ideas to the district office.

The school board said Monday night its decision is final.

"We're not happy that we had to change, but OK, let's put a positive spin on a negative. Involve the community and look for something new," Christman said.

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