The entry to North Douglas High School.

DRAIN — With a July 1 deadline looming, North Douglas School District is among three in Oregon at risk of losing state funds for not complying with state Native American mascot notification procedures.

The state's Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction has the right to withhold all or part of the state school funds for the district, but an amount has not yet been determined.

In 2012, the Oregon State Board of Education adopted a rule that prohibited school districts from retaining Native American mascots after July 1 of this year. School districts were allowed to keep their mascots if they entered into an agreement with a Native American tribe that met the requirements of the rule.

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North Douglas High School mascot Willie the Warrior is being removed from the school's gym floor and signage.

“(School districts) are supposed to notify us if they change that image,” said Cindy Hunt, the government and legal affairs manager for the Oregon Department of Education on Wednesday.

“That formal communication is important for them to let us know,” Hunt said. “At this point I have not received a formal notice from (NDSD) that they have adopted a new mascot.”

Last year, the school district decided not to enter into an agreement with a Native American tribe and instead opted to keep its name of the “Warriors” with no mascot, with warriors no longer referring to Native American warriors.

North Douglas School District Superintendent John Lahley disagreed that a formal notice is required. He said that nowhere does it state that a report must be filed if a mascot is eliminated. Rather, he said, the rules say that the state must be notified only if a Native American mascot will be kept and a school district is entering into an agreement with a Native American tribe.

“I am in complete compliance and I have not violated anything or jeopardized our district in any capacity because I was not required to do anything,” Lahley said.

Lahley said the school district has been busy removing all Native American imagery, painting over murals and identifications on walls, and removing any placards and items like sporting uniforms that identify with its former mascot, Willie the Warrior.

Just last week, the high school sanded its Willie the Warrior symbol off the gymnasium floor and is currently refinishing the floor as part of a $25,000 project. Removing Native American images from campus walls, letterheads and uniforms is expected to cost the school another $5,000.

“Any mascot and any reflection of Willie the Warrior has been retired,” Lahley said.

Looking at North Douglas High School's website Wednesday, Hunt said that past photos with the old mascot can still be found online, so the school has not yet successfully removed all its Native American imagery.

Hunt also referred to OAR 581-021-0047 subsection six that said, “Each school district shall notify on or before July 1, 2017, the department of education when a new mascot is adopted for the public school.”

“If (the school district) doesn’t notify us, we don’t know this,” Hunt said. “It’s required, to avoid enforcement action.”

During enforcement action, the state would visit the noncompliant school districts to see what changes have been made within the five years since the rule went into effect.

“If they are not in compliance and they are still using an image that’s a Native American ... they could face a loss of state school funds,” Hunt said. “But they have until July 1.”

Oakridge and Lebanon are the other school districts listed as not in compliance by the board of education.

Reporter Vera Westbrook can be reached at 541-957-4216 or vwestbrook@nrtoday.com.

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Education and Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Vera Westbrook is the education, nonprofits, and arts and entertainment reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4216 or by email at vwestbrook@nrtoday.com.

(5) comments

TLH-ALB1

"Looking at North Douglas High School's website Wednesday, Hunt said that past photos with the old mascot can still be found online, so the school has not yet successfully removed all its Native American imagery." Should they erase all their school history and that of the students who attended, just to appease a few "non-native politically correct americans"?

Willow62

I went to North Douglas School from 5th grade through 12th grade. Very sad to see Willie the Warrior going. To me, warrior is someone strong, a very positive symbol. North Douglas Brave meant, to me, a young man, Warrior is an older wiser more mature man. Sorry politics has to get in the way.

nr77

The title spelling "Distircit" is a real eye catcher. Another poor choice law that never was a problem except to those who made it one. As children we learned to be proud and respect our school mascot starting in grade school, and were sadly disappointed later in life to be told they were politically incorrect by the officials at our school.

exdep425

***I have researched this subject several times. Indians were not here first. North east Russians and south east Asians, came across the land bridge into Alaska way before the Indians showed up. They then came down the west coast into lower Calif. Studies show, that original people related to Indians, left Africa, went to Australia, then South America and migrated north into what is the US now. They were not first. The majority of complaints about how Indians are portrayed, come from non-Indians. Left wing Lib/Dems are the ones that cry foul, when the Indians usually care less. How so you ask? I had an uncle, full chief, Chippewa's, from Wisconsin, that said nothing bothered him and it was just meddlers that wanted something to whine about. I was also married to a Nipomo Indian woman and she said the same thing, except some times the recognition was a good feeling. A few whiners jumped on their milk crate and the government followed with out of control regulations. I doubt anyone actually talked with Tribes to get input and simply did what they wanted. Government has a reputation for making rather poor decisions.

just me

always has been school national socialists. goes with the territory

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