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District Commended By State Education Department For Mascot Change

The Waterloo Central School District was commended in a memo that was sent by the Senior Deputy Commissioner for Education Policy to every district in the state this week.

The memo from James N. Baldwin was sent to “ensure school districts’ knowledge of a recent legal decision and their concomitant need to ensure that district mascots, team names, and logos are non-discriminatory.”

The legal decision stated that Native American mascots are inconsistent with the state’s Dignity for All Students Act and that beginning in July of 2023 school districts are “prohibited” from using  Native American team names, logos and/or imagery unless they have “approval from a recognized tribe.”

Districts that fail to comply could face the removal of school officers or the withholding of state aid.

Of the 700 school districts in New York state, about 65 still employ Native American imagery in combination with names such as “Indians,” “Red Raiders,” and “Warriors.” The Waterloo Central School District voted to change its mascot to Tigers in June.

Former Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills first raised concern about Native American mascots in 2001.

“Many school districts have heeded Commissioner Mills’ directive and retired their mascots,” Baldwin’s memo read. “Most recently, the Waterloo and Lyme Central School Districts retired their mascots. SED commends the efforts of these districts.”

“I appreciate the work of the Strategic Planning Committee, the Mascot Committee and the Board of Education for their foresight in making this mascot change in a timely manner to ensure we are complying with the New York State Education Department’s expectations,” Superintendent of Schools Terri Bavis said. “I have also appreciated the support of our community in embracing this change for our students.”