OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Shawnee Mission school board voted in favor of a new policy that will remove what it calls all derogatory mascots.
Under this new policy, mascots at Shawnee Mission North High, Shawanoe Elementary, Rushton Elementary and Belinder Elementary will all be retired and replaced by more inclusive and culturally sensitive mascots.
An online petition circulating in favor of changing Shawnee Mission North’s mascot has more than 4,600 signatures. Alisha Vincent graduated from North in 1995 and is in favor of the change.
“I think the main issue is really just if the district has adopted a fairness policy about fair cultural depiction then is it fair to use a tribal name when that tribal nation has told you no or you never asked for permission?” Vincent asked.
But not everyone agrees with the change. The Indians have been North’s mascot for nearly 100 years. A petition in favor of keeping Shawnee Mission North’s name has more than 2,900 signatures, including Emmitt Monslow from the Class of 2012 and member of the group NAGA.
“I think when you remove the name and images for not just Shawnee Mission North but the other schools you lose a seat at the table for having discussions,” Monslow said. “Education has never worked when you eradicate the images.”
David Smith, spokesman for Shawnee Mission School District, said removing offensive mascots is just one piece of a larger plan to make the district more inclusive in and out of the classroom.
“We recognize that this will be an ongoing process for us to make sure we’re being inclusive in how we teach and how students learn,” Smith said. “It will involve students staff family and community will work together to come up with a new mascot.”
Principals will be responsible for putting together a group of students, staff, parents and other stakeholders to choose new mascot names.