ANDERSON TWP., Ohio (FOX19) - The Forest Hills School District Board of Education voted 4-1 Thursday to retire Anderson High School’s Redskins logo and nickname.
The vote was held virtually in a special meeting of the board. The special meeting was called, according to the meeting notice, “to discuss, consider and vote on a motion to retire the Anderson high school mascot.”
In explaining her vote for the motion, board member Elizabeth Barber said, “The Redskin as a fixture in public education is distracting and divisive to the two things that matter most: education and unity.”
Barber also said the nickname makes some feel unsafe, and that “children who don’t feel safe or included cannot learn effectively.”
“We serve a passionate community and the Board of Education respects the many different voices invested in the future of the mascot,” Board President Forest Heis said. “Now is the time to unite with the common goal of selecting a mascot that celebrates Anderson’s proud traditions of academic and athletic excellence.”
The motion specifies taxpayer money will not be used in retiring and removing the logo and nickname. A fundraising effort will seek money from private donors to offset the costs involved.
The district says it will announce a process and guidelines to select a new mascot and brand soon. The process will include students, alumni, staff and community participants.
A timeline for what Superintendent Scot Prebles described as “the brand transition” will be created in July.
The logo, according to the district, will be phased out in stages. This process will begin during the 2020-2021 academic year.
Prebles said in recent weeks the district has reviewed “hundreds of messages” on the mascot and reflected on “significant conversations taking place in our school district, its community and around the country.”
Prebles continued: “It’s vitally important that all of our schools and school grounds are welcoming, safe and inclusive spaces for students, staff and community members. We continuously strive to do better, listen more and move forward in our collective purpose to empower every student every day.”
The logo and nickname have been controversial for decades.
Those in favor of removing it say they want to get rid of the name ‘Redskins’ and all associated images because it’s dehumanizing. They say it’s a demeaning representation of the indigenous Native American identity and does not reflect the values of their community.
Tony Henson, board member of the Native American Guardian’s Association, told FOX19 NOW that people who want to keep the logo are apprehensive about speaking out on the issue for fear of retaliation.
Henson said the native theme “provides a unique and powerful opportunity to educate Native Americans and to keep them in remembrance.”
According to our media partners at the Enquirer, the board considered changing Anderson’s mascot in 1999, in 2003 and again in 2018. Each time the board decided to keep the school’s controversial name, though according to Prebles, the mascot was removed in 2003.