OSSEO, Wis. (WEAU) - The AP reports that the Senate was expected to take up the race-based school mascot bill Tuesday but GOP leaders later announced they'll consider the bill next month.
State assembly representatives voted Tuesday to change the process of how schools can be ordered to change their mascots from American Indian symbols.
The proposal would mean at least 10 percent of the people living in a school district would have to sign a petition that opposes the current name to start the review process.
It's part of an ongoing debate of tradition versus cultural sensitivity that's already forced some area schools to make the change.
Over the years, at least 32 schools in the state have changed their nicknames or logos to remove race-based American Indian symbols, according to the Wisconsin Indian Education Association.
The Osseo - Fairchild School District had much debate on whether it needed to change to its ‘Chieftains’ nickname in 2010 and 2011. Under the current law, only one person had to file a complaint to remove it.
“In some ways, it was difficult. There's a lot of tradition and people who graduated from here, and that was their logo, so they wanted to stay with that,” Osseo Fairchild Superintendent Bill Tourdot said.
Both Tourdot and school board president Barry Kostka said the Department of Public Instruction's orders to change were widely accepted.
“I was impressed that the people that were really opposed and trying to keep the logo, once the decision was made, they've just been outstanding and very supportive of the school, and the process has been very smooth since then,” Tourdot said.
The community liked the sound of “thunder,” making it their new nickname in a district-wide vote.
“Now we've put thunder back on a lot of the uniforms if they haven't been changed already, it's been very good,” Kostka said.
“We have a lot more important things to deal with like education, to then waste a lot of time on this anymore.”
Tourdot and Kostka said they've moved on and accepted the Thunder name, but agreed that the new bill's larger population petitioning for change could be beneficial.
“It's important to get a lot of peoples' opinions and give everybody a voice. So if 10 percent makes it so more people have a voice, then I guess that's a good thing,” Tourdot said.
He said it's tough to determine whether any American Indian mascots or logos are harmful to students, and the transition of removing the Chieftain logo was done over several years.
State representatives approved the changes to the school mascot bill by a vote of 52 to 41.