ONEIDA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Superintendent of the Oneida City School District tells NewsChannel 9 that recent guidance from the State Education Department “appears to indicate that we’ll…not be the Oneida Indians.”
Speaking with NewsChannel 9 about the state directive, Superintendent Matthew Carpenter says representatives from different community groups could meet as soon as December to begin discussing the evolution of the district’s team name.
Next year, the Board of Education will consider a commitment to change the name, to meet the state’s deadline of the end of the school year.
Last week, a memo from the State Education Department informed districts statewide that recent legal action “establishes that public school districts are prohibited from utilizing Native American mascots.”
For Oneida, it’s only the team name “Indians.”
“The district went away from the use of an actual mascot and to any imagery that could be culturally offensive,” said Carpenter.
Children of the Oneida Indian Nation are the second largest student demographic in the Oneida City School District.
At least nine other districts will eventually be going through the same process.
- Canastota Red Raiders
- Fulton Red Raiders
- Groton Indians
- Morrisville-Eaton Warriors
- Oneida Indians
- Oriskany Redskins
- Sauquoit Valley Indians
- Waterville Indians
- Weedsport Warriors
- Whitesboro Warriors
Whitesboro’s superintendent, Brian Bellair, tells NewsChannel 9 his district is awaiting further guidance from the State Education Department on next steps for his district.
He writes: “We expect further guidance from NYSED and will wait to plan any action necessary once we have time to review and process.”
While the Weedsport Central School District didn’t respond to NewsChannel 9, an update on the district’s website indicates the superintendent is also awaiting clarity from the state.
“Weedsport has every intention of following this state directive. For now, the District is waiting for clarification from New York state regarding our obligations,” it reads.
Representatives for Groton and Fulton didn’t respond.
While the state’s enforcement will be celebrated by many as something long overdue, local boards of education will likely encounter constituents against any change.
When asked about that possibility in Oneida, Carpenter said: “We have some proportion of our staff and community that grew up here, went through our schools here, and they see this change as not something positive, but just another change. I think it’s inherent on the district, and myself, and the board to meet community members and talk about a change like this, and talk about what it means to our groups and to our community.”