LIBERTY CSD RISKS LOSING STATE AID, SCHOOL OFFICERS IF IT FAILS TO REPLACE NATIVE AMERICAN TEAM NAME
DEADLINE IS END OF THIS SCHOOL YEAR
DISTRICT SAYS IT'S REVIEWING COURT RULING AND WILL LOOK AT OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO COMPLY
The Liberty Central School District could risk vital State aid and the removal of school officers if it fails to replace its "Indians" team name, logo and/or imagery by the end of the 2022-2023 school year, according to a new memo issued by the New York State Board of Education.
The memo issued to all school districts on Thursday states that a June 2022 court decision (State Supreme Court, Albany County) "establishes that public school districts are prohibited from utilizing Native American mascots. Arguments that community members support the use of such imagery or that it is “respectful” to Native Americans are no longer tenable."
The Liberty Board of Education in December 2020 had a public discussion about the issue but decided to maintain the symbols and team name. (See our original story below the memo).
At that time, Board President John Nichols described the continued use of the Indians name as a "tribute" to Native Americans - but the State Education Department now says that's not an acceptable defense.
At round the same time as the Liberty Board of Ed discussed the issue, the major league baseball team from Cleveland announced that is was dropping its "Indians" name which the team had used for more than a century. A year later, it became known as the Cleveland Guardians.
The SullivanTimes on Friday morning reached out to Superintendent Patrick Sullivan for comment. On Friday afternoon, he told The SullivanTimes in an email:
"Liberty Central School District is reviewing the ruling by the state Supreme Court banning the use of Native American imagery and mascots by schools. In the coming weeks, we will look at what options are available to us to comply with this ruling."
(The Liberty Board of Education next meets on November 22).
The National Congress of American Indians, the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments, has been urging schools to remove Native American team names and symbols for more than a decade.
The SullivanTimes also reached out to the organization on Friday for comment.
Meanwhile, there are other high schools in upstate New York that also continue to use the Indians name, including Glen Falls, Owego Free Academy and Groton.