Proposal makes it harder to force WI schools to change mascots - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Proposal makes it harder to force WI schools to change race-based mascots

Mukwonago school mascot Mukwonago school mascot

MADISON (WKOW) -- A new bill would make it harder to force Wisconsin public schools to remove race-based nicknames.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and three other Republicans released details of the proposal Thursday. It would change current law to place the burden of proof on the person complaining about the mascot, rather than the school district. It would also require a petition challenging the nickname signed by residents of the district totally at least 10 percent of the student body. Those signatures would have to be obtain within 120 days of when the complaint was filed.

The bill would also give the Department of Administration the authority to order the nickname be removed. Right now the Department of Public Instruction has the authority to force schools to drop race-based nicknames, logos and mascots if a single complaint is filed.

"These changes are reasonable and address concerns brought forth by all parties," said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester).  "It puts the proper mechanism in place for appeals from the community without putting an undue burden on school districts."

"This legislation is a good step in recognizing that a single individual should not be able to dictate their will over a whole community and in the process deprive an entire group of people their right to due process," said Rep. Dave Craig (R-Big Bend).  "As a resident of the Mukwonago School District, I hope my colleagues will join us in reversing the wrongs that we have imposed on many of our state's school districts by passing this legislation without delay."
The proposal also expands the opportunity for tribes and school districts to work together on school nicknames and logos.
"I believe this new proposal offers a fair and balanced approach to changing state law on the use of Indian logos, mascots and nicknames.  We wouldn't be at this point except for the principled position taken by the citizens of the Mukwonago School District," Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) said.
The legislation will be considered in the coming weeks.
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