Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Retaining Race-Based Mascots in Wisconsin, by Sofia Beccarelli

A bill being considered today could change the process of schools changing race-based mascots in Wisconsin, affecting Mukwonago High School and others, by forcing strict regulations.

A petition of signatures from people of the school district, above or equal to ten percent of the district student population,  have to be collected 120 days before a complaint, and a burden of proof must be placed on the complaint. A hearing must be held by the Department of Administration’s Division of Hearing Appeals, who has the decision.

Assembly speaker Robin Vos stated “These changes are reasonable and address the concerns brought forth by all parties. It puts the proper mechanism in place for appeals from the community without putting an undue burden on school districts.”

The new regulations would allow a mascot that can be seen as discriminating a particular group to remain as long as less than ten percent of the student population do not object to it.

Barbara Munson, who backed the law that restricts the race-based mascots states, "This particular law is not constitutional and in fact is racist. This law is a form of discrimination."

Some believe that this new legislation will actually allow an opportunity for a partnership between the tribes and the school districts.

Sam Hall, a Mukwonago School District attorney, commended the legislation, stating “This proposal strikes the right balance in protecting the constitutional rights of local taxpayers and preserving local control of schools, while also restating that racial discrimination and harassment have no place in our schools”

A public hearing is scheduled for today.