OVERLAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -- Several Shawnee Mission schools will be getting new mascots.
Monday night, the school board voted unanimously to approve a new policy that would put an end to mascots that relate to Native Americans.
A petition began building steam last summer to do away with the Shawnee Mission Indians. That led to a broader proposal from the district to add mascots to the policy that relates to discrimination and harassment – and eliminate not just the Indians but also the Braves.
Under the cover of darkness a group of Johnson County residents placed more than 100 rocks throughout the grounds surrounding Shawnee Mission School District’s Center for Academic Achievement.
For nearly 100 years, Shawnee Mission North students and athletes have been “The Indians.” By next school year, that mascot will be gone from the field, the hallways and the signs. At Monday night’s board meeting, those supporting the move echoed sentiments that arose during the proposed ordinance’s first reading last month.
“Move away from appropriative depictions and towards a more inclusive atmosphere that includes accurate Native history,” said Alisha Vincent, who identified herself as a Shawnee Mission North alumna and someone involved in the petition campaign.
“People and ethnicities are not mascots. They are communities with rich and diverse histories to be celebrated, not made into caricatures to be used as logos,” said Kate Raglow, who identified herself a member of the Roeland Park Racial Equity Ad-Hoc Committee
One speaker asked the board to do more research before voting.
“What do we really get as Indians from these changes?” asked Emmitt Monslow, who identified himself as a Shawnee Mission North alumnus. “I ask you to educate not eradicate. Don’t let Indians be forgotten.”
The ordinance approved adds a mascot policy stating mascots should not be “derogatory or offensive” to anyone in a protected class and should be “culturally and racially sensitive,” “depict individuals with fairness, dignity and respect,” and align with the district’s mission of “a fully unified, equitable, and inclusive culture.”
The board first approved that ordinance then voted that the mascots Indians and Braves are in violation of that policy. In addition to Shawnee Mission North, Rushton Elementary and Shawnee Elementary currently use the mascot Indians and Belinder Elementary currently uses the mascot Braves.
Superintendent Mike Fulton said he would work with principals on a process to identify new mascots by the end of the school year. He said it might take until next school year to implement the new mascots, which will vary by school based on the scope of changes needed.