Colorado schools, which could be fined a $ 25,000 monthly fine for Thunderbird mascots, could receive a one-year reprieve to comply with 2021 state law, which bans American Indian nicknames.
The annual delay enshrined in the school funding bill, which passes through the legislature, only applies to schools added after 2021 to the state’s default list.
It offers more “realistic deadlines” for schools to clear their campuses of recently banned mascots before fines begin, said Monument State Republican Sen. Paul Lundin, the main sponsor of the school finance bill that amended.
The Lundin Amendment came after the Colorado Native American Commission last year published a list of more than two dozen public schools that must get rid of their American Indian mascots by June 1, 2022, or face a fine under a Senate bill 116, which was adopted last year. In April, the commission said it could add Thunderbirds to the list of humiliating mascots, leaving seven more public schools unsure whether to abandon their mascots by June.
This could be found out at a meeting of the commission on May 19.
Some said they didn’t have enough time – just two weeks – to get rid of any images of Thunderbird’s mascot, which belongs to a mythical bird important to several tribes.
“If you’re going to put us there so late in the afternoon, give us some time to make a change,” said David Crews, head of the Sangre de Cristo school district in Mosca. told The Colorado Sun. in April. The county adopted the Thunderbirds mascot when the two San Luis Valley counties merged in 1960. “It puts us between stone and anvil – we are not on the list now, but are we starting to make changes? If we don’t answer now and start doing that, we won’t have much time to do it. “
Twelve of the original two dozen public schools did not cover their mascots as of mid-March. Those schools from next month may face fines; the amendment now gives schools one year from the date of their notification of compliance.
Lundin said some schools knew their mascots would be banned under state law, either because they were outrageous appropriations of Native American images, or because they were named during the Senate’s discussion of Bill 116. Others, such as Thunderbird mascots, may have been caught unaware that they would need to hide trophies, remove banners or change school uniforms to hide Thunderbird images.
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“These schools would have less than a month to cover everything – I just thought it was really unfair because they didn’t participate in the first campaign,” said Barbara McLachlan, a Democrat, Durango’s Democrat and main sponsor of the bill.
McLachlan, who supports the amendment and backed a 2021 bill banning American Indian mascots in public schools, said Thunderbird mascots sent some schools to a U.S. Air Force demonstration squadron, while others used images of Indians.
“At first people said (schools on the list) were wrong, they should be punished now. But … no school can afford it, ”McLachlan said. “We must give them grace.”
Superintendent Druss expressed hope that the district would not be added to the commission list. But if so, he is grateful that the amendment could give them a year to make changes, not 12 days.
The amendment is made in accordance with the geographical renamings of the Colorado Council started the process of 28 sites across the state.
McLachlan said the 2021 mascot bill had been “developed for decades” and aimed at removing humiliating or stereotypical mascots, about changes long desired by tribes. She cited examples such as “Tomahawks” and “Savages”.
“We just decided to get together and say, ‘Let’s not do this again.’ Let’s help them, ”McLachlan said.
According to Conor Cahill, a spokesman for the governor Jared Polis, the governor’s office, which deals with commission issues, supports the one-year deferral.
The the school funding bill adopted by the Senate on Friday. Last month, it was passed by the House of Representatives without amendments related to Thunderbird.
Contributed to this report by Colorado Sun staff writer Jesse Paul.