Responding to a request from the Wausau School Board, members of the Sun Prairie School Board on July 29 approved a resolution to retire Native American mascots in Wisconsin school districts.

During the annual state education convention, WASB accepts resolutions to be submitted for approval by the general body at their delegate convention in January.

The Wausau School District Board of Education reached out to the Boards of Education in Sun Prairie and Madison for co-sponsorship of the attached resolution in support of legislation requiring all school districts is Wisconsin to retire Native American mascots.

This resolution was passed unanimously by the Wausau Board of Education and the Madison School Board is taking action on co-sponsoring this resolution at their meeting on July 29, 2019.

Wausau School Board President Tricia Zunker, who works for the Ho-Chunk Nation, asked for the board’s support for the resolution on the same evening the Madison Metropolitan School Board was scheduled to discuss it.

Sun Prairie School Board President Steve Schroeder said the American Psychological Association has called for an immediate retirement of Native American mascots, symbols and images as they are believed to cause harm to the social identity development and self-esteem of Native American students and do not empower Native American students towards academic achievement and success.

“As a district that respects the cultures of our diverse community it is important that we support this resolution and co-sponsor it,” Schroeder said in reading the statement to the board.

According to the resolution, Wisconsin is comprised of 421 public school districts and approximately 31 districts retain use of Native American mascots, symbols, images, logos or nicknames. The Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) does not use any Native American mascots to represent its athletic teams.

The resolution criticizes “the continued use of Native American mascots, symbols, images, logos and nicknames undermines the educational experiences of members of all communities” and states “the continued use of Native American mascots, symbols, images, logos and nicknames teaches non-Native American children that it is acceptable to engage in culturally abusive behavior and perpetuate inaccurate misconceptions about Native American people, culture, history, sovereignty, government, customs and traditions.”

The continued use of Native American “mascots, symbols, images, logos and nicknames establishes an unwelcome, divisive and hostile learning environment for Native American students that affirms negative stereotypes that are promoted in mainstream society,” according to the resolution, which also calls the continued use of Native American mascots and other images “an offensive and intolerable practice to Native American Tribal Nations that must be eradicated.”

The resolution also points out “the continued use of Native American mascots, symbols, images, logos and nicknames has a negative impact on other communities by allowing for the perpetuation of stereotypes and stigmatization of another cultural group.”

The resolution also states “the continued use of Native American mascots, symbols, images, logos and nicknames undermines the ability of Native American Tribal Nations to portray respectful and accurate images of their history, culture, government, sovereignty, customs and traditions.”

The resolution supports legislation requiring Wisconsin school districts to retire Native American mascots, logos, images, symbols and nicknames.

Schroeder said he will send the resolution to Assembly Representative Gary Hebl and State Senator Mark Miller.

While most board members voiced support for the resolution, Sun Prairie School Board member Dave Hoekstra could not back it. He said while he agrees with the premise of the resolution, he believed it was a local decision that should be made by local school boards. “So I will be voting against the resolution,” Hoekstra said.

The board approved the resolution on a 6-1 vote, with Hokestra voting against and Board Vice President Tom Weber absent, to approve the resolution to retire Native American mascots and symbols.

Facilities Access Control Policy approved

Despite objections from one board member, the Sun Prairie School Board voted to approve Policy ECAA, relating to facilities access control.

Janet Rosseter, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, said in a report to the board that the policy is needed to provide safe and secure environments in all district facilities.

But board member Caren Diedrich objected to the policy, pulling it from the Superintendent’s Consent Agenda so it could be discussed.

Diedrich specifically asked about more information relating to who in the district has key fobs and access cards or keys.

The policy also does not address which district officials can access which facilities.

“The one thing I didn’t see in here is what happens if there is a failure to report a loss or theft?” Diedrich asked.

But Schroeder said even though he doesn’t know how everything in the district works, he trusts district administrators and employees will perform those functions without placing them in policies or procedures in order to accomplish those tasks.

Not seeing a need to rush the policy’s approval, Diedrich asked for the policy to be delayed for two weeks in order to have her questions answered.

After discussing which facilities can be accessed by district Facilities and Grounds staffers, Diedrich pointed out that the board usually only uses district policies when things go wrong. “This policy doesn’t have enough walls as far as I’m concerned,” Diedrich said.

But fellow board members disagreed, passing the policy on a 6-1 vote, with Diedrich being the only “no” vote.

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