PHILADELPHIA, N.Y. (WWTI) — Changes may soon be coming to the Indian River Central School District.
On November 17, the New York State Education Department released a memo informing school districts of recent legal action stating that “public schools are prohibited from using Native American mascots.”
The memo stated that this was to “ensure that district mascots, team names and logos are non-discriminatory,” and asked districts that still use native mascots to retire and change them.
Districts were told that if they fail to comply by the end of the 2022-2023 school year, they will be in violation of the Dignity Act, putting them at risk of losing school officers and state aid.
The Indian River Central School District located in Jefferson County is one of few in the region that falls under this directive. The district has recently changed its logo, but its mascot remains to be a “Warrior.”
“IRCSD has every intention of following the recent direction from NYSED,” Superintendent Troy Decker said in a statement. “In fact, our District is well down the path of using the new/revised IR logo instead of the more ‘traditional’ headdress that you may see on some older school items. The recent directive will likely accelerate the shift away from anything perceived as hurtful or discriminatory. We will follow the NYSED directive.”
Decker explained that the district is awaiting further guidance on the potential scope of the state’s requested changes.
He said once more information is known, Indian River’s Board of Education will involve the community in a mascot-related review and will continue engaging the community throughout the process.
Additional districts in the North Country that recently changed their logo due to NYSED directives include the Lyme Central School District and Massena Central School District.
The full memo from NYSED can be read below: