The New York State Department of Education (NYSED) released its guidelines regarding the Board of Regents' April 2023 decision to ban the use of Indigenous names, logos, and mascots by public schools, including what local schools will face as consequences and what will not need to be changed.
The recently-released May 2023 guidelines confirm that nearly a dozen Long Island school districts must eliminate their mascots, logos, and team names by June 30, 2025.
Schools may only keep their team names if the school “never utilized Indigenous imagery in connection with their team name,” the guidelines expressed.
This clarification will seemingly affect schools such as the Comsewogue School District "Warriors," as the district's mascot depicts a Native American man, though a May 3 letter to NYSED from the superintendent contended that the school should be allowed to continue to use "warriors" in respect to the ancient Greek Spartan warrior.
Once retired, the regulation prohibits school employees from wearing or displaying any paraphernalia with the previous logo, mascot, or name, including from their own school or schools across New York State.
However, schools will not be required to remove or change “legacy” or “memorial” items, such as plaques and trophies, as they are “historical artifacts” to the school.
The full guidelines and regulations come as some Long Island schools decry the new rule, such as Massapequa School District, whose Board of Education released a statement claiming that the Board of Regents was extending beyond its power.
“We are Massapequa and we will not sit idly by while an unelected group of officials tries to remove our history,” the statement read.
While it is unclear how Massapequa’s Board of Education plans to counter the regulations, the Department of Education stated that unless schools have a written agreement with a state- or federally-recognized tribe authorizing them to continue the use of a mascot, they will need to adhere to the change.
Schools that do not comply may face consequences under the Education Law including the removal of school officers or “ as a last resort, withholding of State Aid.”
Districts are encouraged to engage their community to see this change as an opportunity, citing specifically the example set by Long Island’s Brentwood Union Free School District.
In a letter to families and the community, superintendent Richard Loeschner wrote that what connects Brentwood’s past and present students “and ties the present to the future is not the word Indian, it is not a feather, nor is it a picture on a gym floor it’s that we are … Brentwood!”
“We are Brentwood Proud; we are Brentwood Strong but most importantly we are Brentwood.”
The deadline for schools to commit to eliminating their mascots is Friday, June 30.
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