WISCONSIN - Starting Thursday, citizen complaints about race-based school mascots may force Wisconsin school districts to change their team names or logos, especially those related to American Indians.
About three dozen schools in the state have Indian-related mascots, names or logos including one school district that stretches into Racine County: Muskego-Norway, home of the Warriors of Muskego High School.
Because of a new state law that goes into effect today, Muskego and the other schools could be forced by the state to change their Indian-related mascots if citizens complain and the mascots are deemed race-based.
For a mascot, team name or logo to be changed, a resident in the school district's boundary must file a formal complaint with the state Department of Public Instruction. Only one complaint is necessary, said Patrick Gasper, spokesman for the state Department of Public Instruction.
If the state superintendent thinks the complaint has merit, the school district is notified and a hearing is scheduled. After the hearing, if the state superintendent finds the mascot race-based and promoting discrimination, harassment or stereotyping, the district will be ordered to change it within one year.
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At least one school district has already changed its mascot as a pre-emptive move. The Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau School District, north of La Crosse, will no longer use its Redmen mascot, nickname and logo.
But at Muskego, there are no plans to change from the Warriors, said Muskego-Norway School District Superintendent Joe Schroeder.
He said Muskego already changed its logo many years ago, from the face of a Native American to a letter M with a spear going through it.
Within at least the last eight years, Schroeder said the district has not received any complaints about the school's logo or name and, if challenged now, he believes the district and its mascot would prevail.
"This law is really aimed at race-based mascots and we don't believe we have one," he said. "We are simply called the Warrior ... we don't view our mascot or logo as connected to Native American culture. A warrior is part of essentially any culture."