Schools in New York state must stop using Native American references in mascots, team names and logos by the end of the current school year or face penalties including a loss of state aid, the state Department of Education said.
“Arguments that community members support the use of such imagery or that it is ‘respectful’ to Native Americans are no longer tenable,” the department said in the memo, issued Thursday.
“Students learn as much through observation of their surroundings as they do from direct instruction,” the memo added. “Boards of education that continue to utilize Native American mascots must reflect upon the message their choices convey to students, parents, and their communities.”
The memo pointed to a state court’s June ruling in favor of the department over the Cambridge Central School District north of Albany, New York, which decided to stop using a Native American reference in its team name last year only to reverse itself weeks later.