Osseo-Fairchild school dictrict remains bitterly divided over mascot following referendum

By: Amelia Cerling Email
By: Amelia Cerling Email

The Osseo-Fairchild school district has been embroiled in a bitter battle over it's Chieftains logo for years.

In Tuesday’s election, district voters said yes to an advisory referendum to continue with an appeal to overturn the Department of Instruction's ruling that the district needs to get rid of it's logo and mascot.

The advisory referendum passed Tuesday night with 55 percent of voters wanting to keep the chieftains logo. But this issue remains passionate and heated among community members.

Harvey and Carol Gunderson have fought for years to change what they call a discriminatory school logo. They say they are disappointed with how the community voted yesterday.

“That 55 percent of a 99 percent white community would support discrimination is rather embarrassing to this community,” Mr. Gunderson says.

But Dorothy Nelson who wears the chieftains logo proudly, say's she's happy with the vote; however she says the community also had the chance to retain or vote out three school board members who were in favor of the logo, and she is unhappy that all three were ousted.

“I thought we had community support and they showed they did, but the weird thing is they voted out the three board members who were in favor of keeping the logo,” Nelson says.

An irony not lost on Osseo-Fairchild superintendent Edward Dombrowski, “What kind of a message is that from our community, I think it’s important for people that they don't want big government telling them what to do but at the same time they felt there was some need for change in terms of how the local government may have been run,” he says.

Regardless of who voted how, the community remains deadlocked, and tension is high. Sharon Jermstad, who was involved in the recall of three board members, tells us her barn was vandalized Monday night. And she thinks it has something to do with the vote.

“It made me very sad that this community that I thought so highly of, that I thought cared so much for each other could actually come to this,” Jermstad tells us.

Superintendent Dombrowski tells us the state has actually filed a motion to dismiss the district's appeal because of improperly filed paperwork. The state will make that decision on November 18.

Osseo-Fairchild's new board members will start later this month.


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