Loss Of State Aid, 'Last Resort' For Non-Compliant Schools

July 9, 2023 0 By JohnValbyNation

MASSAPEQUA, NY — The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is providing more details for prohibiting the use of Indigenous imagery and names in schools.

The decision to remove the questionable mascots has not sat well with Wantagh and Massapequa, which have been associated with the “Warrior” and “Chief” for decades.

Wantagh school officials wanted to keep the Warrior name, while Massapequa didn’t want to change anything.

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The state put out an 11-page document attempting to alleviate any lingering confusion.

“Those districts that currently use, or previously use team names associated with Indigenous imagery or symbols must change their team’s name,” the state wrote.

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The guidance added: “Although some imagery and other aspects of the connection between a team’s name and Indigenous Nations or individuals may have been changed, removed, or used within a broader context, the connection, connotations, and history of these practices remain associated with the use of team names that have or have had connections to Indigenous nations or peoples.”

The Wantagh Board of Education understands that the current logo “may be offensive to indigenous people and that a change needs to be made.” But educators told Patch that they “firmly believe that the district’s Warrior name is not in violation of the new regulation that was established by the Board of Regents and the district will continue conversation with NYSED to keep the Warrior name.”

A school district can begin the appeal process. But if the district doesn’t follow the regulations, penalties could be assessed including, “but not limited to, the removal of school officers, or as a last resort, withholding state aid,” the state said.

Before reaching that point, the Department of Education would hope the matter can be rectified by local leadership and “will work to support district compliance with this regulation.”

Massapequa school officials have not provided an update since their initial open letter on April 18 that stated in part: “We will not sit idly by while an unelected group of officials tries to remove our history. We are in the process of reviewing the decision and investigating all options with legal counsel.”

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