Michigan School Votes to Remove Redskins Mascot | Athletic Business

Michigan School Votes to Remove Redskins Mascot

A Michigan high school voted Monday to do away with its controversial mascot.

According to MLive.com, the Paw Paw Public Schools Board of Education voted 6-1 to “respectively retire” the Redskins mascot at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

“This lays on top of our town like a fog,” Board President Brent McNitt said, noting that he voted in favor of the mascot three years ago. “The only way we can move forward is to lift it.”

Paw Paw Superintendent Rick Reo asked the board to retire the long-time mascot, citing that it created division within the community about 20 miles west of Kalamazoo.

“Our nickname is preventing us from realizing our true potential as a school that welcomes, celebrates, supports and challenges all students,” Reo said in the district newsletter Pride & Progress.

The Paw Paw district is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education because the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan complained of a “racially hostile educational environment.”

The district has been debating the mascot issue for years. The Redskins imagery and name were removed from all district schools except the high school in 2015. A 2017 MLive.com article detailed how the a contentious vote ended with the board deciding to keep the Redskins name.

There were still plenty of Redskins supporters in attendance Monday night.

Thomas Baney was the lone board member who voted against the resolution to retire the mascot. He said he “found flaws in the assumption that the term Redskin is toxic and that changing it will automatically end discord in our school and our town.”

Members of the public wore shirts with the mascot on them, saying that the Redskins name has been a source of pride in the community.

“Let’s talk about 96 years of tradition,” community member Monaca Barnhart said, according to MLive.com. “You guys can’t vote on 96 years of tradition. This is something the community owns and should vote on.”

 “If you strip away the Redskins, don’t ever say pride behind Paw Paw ever again,” Paw Paw alum Randy Good said, saying that he has never felt discriminated against as a Native American.

Paw Paw resident Phil Columbo said that, as a Native American, he has experienced discrimination because of the clothes he wore.

“Racism in this country is institutional,” Columbo said. “Let’s have some healing. Put the past in the past.”

 “The Redskin name has been a great source of school pride for many, many Paw Paw students and fans over the years,” Reo said. “The reality we face and we can’t ignore is that our school community is divided with respect to the appropriateness of the Redskins as a school nickname.

“More importantly, we need to acknowledge and address the impact of this division is having on our school climate and learning environment.”

Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
AB Show 2022 in Orlando
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Learn More
AB Show