The Roseburg High School mascot has been a topic of contention within the community for several months, but the Roseburg Public School board of directors did not discuss or take any action on the issue during Wednesday’s meeting.
Public comments that were shared with board secretary Janet Kischel prior to the meeting were not read aloud during the meeting, but instead given to the directors.
“Given our meeting circumstances in the extreme, we did accept public comments and those have been printed out and given to each of the board members,” school board chair Rebecca Larson said. “If you sent something in, please know that we did get those and received those and we’ll go through those. Please know that we are listening.”
Prior to the meeting, more than a dozen people met in front of the high school and held up signs protesting the use of the Indians mascot, less than a month after a similar protest on Wednesday, Feb. 24.
Jennifer Singleton, who has spoken out in favor of keeping the mascot, said she was surprised the topic wasn’t brought up at the meeting. Singleton added that she hoped people interested in the mascot topic tuned in for the meeting to learn what was going on in the school district.
The school district received seven letters prior to the meeting, which were obtained by The News-Review via a public records request.
Pretty Deer Eagleman, a representative and board member of the national Native American Guardian Association, was the only one writing in favor of keeping the mascot and added a letter from the organization.
The other six letters asking for the mascot to be retired.
“No matter whether the intentions are or were meant to be ‘honouring’ or ‘noble,’ I do not believe that ANY GROUP OF PEOPLE should be used as a mascot,” RHS alumnus Trina Johnson wrote.
Owen Bascom, 14, also wrote to the board expressing that the people who want to keep the mascot are white, not native. “What if I was in your stands and had to listen to the opposing teams chant ‘Let’s beat the Indians!’ or yell ‘Indians suck!’ Is that safe for me or any Native student who attends your school?,” he wrote. “Your racism cannot be contained in Roseburg either. This could happen at your away games as well.”
The school board meeting was live streamed via YouTube. Board members met at the Rose Theatre at the high school, while no public was allowed to adhere to the strict guidelines set by the state because of the high COVID-19 case counts in Douglas County.
The board continues to meet in person to show solidarity with the teachers who continue to work in the classroom.
School board vice chair Steve Patterson and director Rodney Cotton were excused from the meeting.
During the meeting, the school board approved the calendar for the 2021-2022 school year — which is set to start on Aug. 30 and end on June 9 for students, with Roseburg High School graduation scheduled for June 4.
The board also expressed interest in a Public Employees Retirement System pension bonding proposal for up to 4.5% maximum interest cost.
A report from the building and sites committee talked about an upcoming bond, marketing for the bond, and placing an agriculture building on the Roseburg High School campus.
The board agreed to put a bond measure on the ballot in May 2022, although it did not take an official vote on the matter.
“We need to ensure that the next bond measure passes,” board member Howard Johnson said. “We cannot push it further down the road, because our buildings and our facilities are falling further and further behind of what would be an acceptable standard for our students to be educated in.”
A bond measure for $1.27 per $1,000 of assessed property value — an estimated $94 million in total — on the May 2020 ballot failed by a narrow margin.
Rose School student Shervon Madison received student recognition. She is the first to receive student recognition this school year by the board.
The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 14 at the Roseburg High School Rose Theatre.