Russ Baldwin | Jul 23, 2021 | Comments 0
The Lamar School District School Board hosted a community forum on July 15 to provide information related to SB21-116 which prohibits the use of Native American mascots by schools in Colorado effective June 1, 2022.
The Education Council has informed the public of the following:
- The Council never voted to change or replace the mascot. SB21-116 was introduced as law on February 23, 2021 by Representative McLauchlan and was subsequently approved by the House and Senate. Governor Polis promulgated the bill on June 28, 2021.
- The board does not believe that Lamar High School, or the community of Lamar, portray or use the mascot in a negative or derogatory manner.
- This bill will impose a fine of $ 25,000 per month on districts that do not comply with the law as of June 1, 2022.
- The school will keep the current mascot / logo and associated images until May 31, 2022.
- The Council acknowledges that NAGA and Noble Savages are raising funds to file an injunction and legal action to overturn the law.
- Council does not believe that it would be financially prudent to contribute to district funds to cover the legal costs associated with filing an injunction or legal action, as there is no guarantee of time or costs. associated with the conclusion of a settlement or a court decision. District funds should be prioritized for student education, as well as the recruitment and retention of quality staff.
- If the law is NOT rescinded by January 15, 2022, the Board of Education will appoint a committee of stakeholders, alumni and students to solicit recommendations for a change of mascot. A new mascot will be selected by March 1, 2022. It is necessary that the board of directors start taking these steps in early 2022 in order to allow sufficient time to implement the changes by the deadline of the June 1, 2022.
- If the law is canceled before May 31, 2022, the Lamar high school will remain the âWild Lamarâ without modification of the logo.
About 125 community members attended the forum, with about two dozen people providing feedback. After the public comment period, a survey was conducted asking community members to choose one of the following:
âª Keep the name âSauvagesâ and adopt a new logo that does not include any Native American imagery.
âª Change the name and logo of the high school.
Ninety-three people voted to keep âSavagesâ and adopt a new logo; 6 voted to replace the two; and 26 people wrote back âkeep bothâ. It has been widely discussed that the board should have included an option to âkeep both,â but if the law is rescinded, Lamar High School will not experience any changes from the current mascot. If the law remains in force or a lawsuit has not been settled, the district will have no choice but to make the necessary changes to avoid substantial fines, or the risk of substantial fines.
Again, it is the duty of the education council to always remember that the greatest concern must be the educational well-being of the students attending the school and to be financially responsible and to make decisions that leave the district in a healthy financial situation.
In an effort to be proactive, Council is seeking comments from the Colorado Indian Affairs Commission to ensure that the district will be in compliance with the law if “Savages” is maintained without Native American imagery.
The school board will continue to work throughout this process and as new information becomes available it will be shared with the community. The Board recognizes that this is an exciting topic for the community and wishes to provide a wealth of information and the opportunity for the community to engage in this process.
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