Lamar School District Board Press Release on Status of Savage Mascot

 

The Lamar School District Board of Education held a community forum on July 15th to provide information related to SB21-116 which prohibits the use of Native American mascots by Colorado schools beginning June 1, 2022.

The Board of Education notified the public of the following:

  • The Board never voted to change or replace the mascot. SB21-116 was introduced as legislation on February 23, 2021 by Representative McLauchlan and was subsequently approved in the House and Senate. Governor Polis signed the bill into law on June 28, 2021.
  • The Board does not believe the Lamar High School, nor the community of Lamar, represents or uses the mascot in a negative or derogatory manner.
  • This bill will impose a fine of $25,000 per month for districts failing to comply with the law beginning June 1, 2022.
  • The high school will maintain the current mascot/logo and associated imagery through May 31, 2022.
  • The Board recognizes that NAGA and Noble Savages are raising funds to file an injunction and lawsuit in an effort to overturn the law.
  • The Board does not believe it would be financially prudent to contribute any district funds towards covering legal fees associated with filing an injunction or a lawsuit, as there is no guarantee of the timeframe or costs associated with reaching a settlement or court decision.  District funds must be prioritized for the education of the students, as well as recruitment and retention of quality staff.
  • Should the law NOT be overturned by January 15, 2022, the Board of Education will appoint a committee of stakeholders, alumni, and students to solicit recommendations for a mascot change. A new mascot will be selected by March 1, 2022. It is necessary for the Board to begin taking these steps in early 2022 to allow sufficient time to implement the changes by the June 1, 2022 deadline.
  • If the law is overturned prior to May 31, 2022, Lamar High School will remain the “Lamar Savages” with no changes to the logo.

Approximately 125 community members attended the forum, with approximately two dozen people speaking offering feedback. Following the public comment period, a poll was taken asking the community members to choose one of the following:

▪ Keep the “Savages” name and adopt a new logo that does not include any Native American imagery.

▪ Change both the name and logo for the high school.

Ninety-three individuals voted to maintain “Savages” and adopt a new logo; 6 voted to replace both; and 26 individuals provided a written-in response of “keep both”. It has been widely discussed that the Board should have included an option to “keep both”, however if the law is overturned, Lamar High School will experience no changes to the current mascot. If the law remains in place or a lawsuit has not been settled, the district will have no choice but to make the necessary changes to avoid substantial fines, or the risk of substantial fines.

Again, it is the duty of the Board of Education to remember always that the greatest concern must be the educational welfare of the students attending the school and to be fiscally responsible and make decisions that leave the district in a sound financial position.

In an effort to be proactive, the Board is seeking feedback from the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs to ensure that the district will be in compliance with the law, should “Savages” be maintained without the Native American imagery.

The Board of Education will continue to work through this process and as new information becomes available, it will be shared with the community. The Board recognizes this to be a passionate topic for the community and wants to provide ample information and opportunity for the community to be engaged in this process.

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