Howard Johnson called his fellow Roseburg school board members hypocrites during Wednesday’s meeting, as they voted to approve a policy entitled “All Students Belong” but remained silent on the Roseburg High School mascot name.
Johnson, who is a Black man, noted that approving a policy with such a title, while not acknowledging that members of the community have said they do not feel as though they belong because of the racist mascot name, is hypocritical.
The renaming of the Roseburg High School mascot was thrust back into the spotlight earlier this year, amid nationwide rallies for equity.
School board member Micki Hall said, “The groundwork had been laid to get rid of the mascot.”
In recent months, the school board approved policies that require a unanimous vote during two meetings to change the name of any mascot or building in the school district.
Renaming the Roseburg Indians mascot has not been brought up by the school board or administrators at a public meeting in 2020. Community members and alumni have consistently voiced their concerns on the issue.
A workshop on equity was supposed to take place this summer but didn’t.
The policy that was approved Wednesday is a rewording of a state-mandated policy that prohibits the use of the Confederate flag, a swastika or a noose on school grounds, except when part of the instruction.
“All students are entitled to a high quality educational experience, free from discrimination or harassment based on perceived race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or national original,” the policy reads.
Johnson said until the board decides to include the mascot in the language he would vote against the policy.
The policy was adopted with six members voting in favor and one against.
Another agenda item that passed on a 6-1 vote was the approval of the Oregon School Boards Association’s legislative priorities and principles.
Rod Cotton voted against, saying the document was “too vanilla” and he hoped representatives would take a firmer stand.
The board did unanimously agree on the superintendent and board goals for 2020-2021 and the 2021 budget calendar.