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La Veta schools will remain the “Redskins”

LA VETA — Tuesday night’s regularly scheduled RE-2 school board meeting was a packed house. Several parents and community members were present in the audience to hear the board discuss the mascot issue. Board member Eleanor Foley was the first to state her opinion on the matter saying, “when I came on the board back in the 90s and this issue arose, we kicked it down the road for another board to deal with. At this time I felt it very important to address the issue. After doing my own research I found I could support change or not, but … I say let us agree that the name can offend some, but I found out from my American Indian friends that [they] have played against Redskin teams in the past and they were not offended. “The name must be used in a prideful way they told me,” said Foley. However after doing my own research on the name, I found that there are 62 Redskin team names thorough the United States, and 28 of those teams are on reservations. “Our community does not support change” said Foley and we have to be responsive to that. We

cannot in good conscience ignore the people of this community who support this school. She stated she would make a motion to put this issue to rest and keep and honor the Redskin name. “I will add to the motion that it not be brought before the board again until which time the state mandates change or the general consensus of the public changes.” Board member Ed Donovan was next to address the board and said that the name definitely appears to offend some Native Americans, and he didn’t feel it is helpful at this time to compare the numbers of those who are offended to those who are not. “The issue is that even if we hurt someone unintentionally, we apologize and promise not to do it again. I don’t think we should avoid controversial conversations such as this out of fear that some may not agree with us.” He said that times have changed and so must the school and unless he is convinced otherwise, it will be his vote to change the name of the La Veta Redskins.” Next the audience heard from board member Cindy Campbell, a supporter of the school as well as a parent of two children who graduated from La Veta schools. “I’ve always had a lot of pride in the students of this school. I am concerned however that according to Time magazine, the majority of tribes interviewed were offended by the Redskin name, and it makes me feel like our rights as community stop there,” said Campbell. It was her recommendation that “when the Washington Redskins change their name, we too as a school change ours. Rather than an abrupt hostile change, that we just go with the general feeling of our country.” Next to speak was member Kenny Schneider who said “I too have done a lot of research on this” and spent lots of time going over and over the topic. Psychiatrists have said that the word is especially harmful to native children, and bottom line is if we are in any way harming a child, which is our business, than how can we ever attain a school of excellence?” said Schneider. “My basic reaction to this whole issue has been sadness,” said board president Sam Law, “because I was so moved by what I heard at the public forum. For years it seems, the Redskin name here has meant some of the best things in life – pride, poise, and a sense of belonging.” Law continued, we would never want to speak derogatorily to a Native American by calling him a Redskin, and she would be appalled if she ever heard students using the term in that manner, and yet it’s acceptable to call a team that. She said “she feels as we are stuck somewhere in the middle.” “For now I can go with keeping the name and the mascot and vote with all of the good intentions that stand behind it.” But all the while “I would want us to recognize that on this issue, we are standing on the wrong side. I would just add that one day not too far away we should expect change and be ready for it” said Law. Mrs. Foley made her motion, however the motion died for a lack of a second. After more discussion and several amended motions, it was passed by a three to two vote to keep and honor the Redskin name until which time it is state or federally mandated to change. Donovan and Schneider both opposed. In other business, the board recognized freshmen Shaylee Andreatta, and third grade teacher Kim Eldredge for their selection by CSU Pueblo for the 14th annual teacher appreciation celebration. Shaylee’s essay about her most inspirational teacher honoring Mrs. Eldredge was selected for the award. The board began to discuss the district’s preliminary budget, however final details still need to be addressed by Finance Manager Toni Brgoch. The budget will be handed to board members on Thursday May 29 for discussion at the next meeting to be held June 9. The board than adjourned into executive session as authorized by C.R.S.24-6-402(4)(f) for the discussion of personnel matters related to the contract of the Vocational Agriculture teacher. The next meeting will be held June 9 at 5 pm in the school library.