Richard Mallette, a West Haven, Conn., minister, has asked the local school board to cast out the "blue devil" that has served as West Haven High School's mascot for 39 years.
"What we object to is treating the devil as if he doesn't really exist," said Mr. Mallette, the founder and pastor of Living Word Ministries Inc. "They are making evil look good and good look evil. The devil does exist, and his mission is to steal, kill, and destroy."
Mr. Mallette reportedly asked for the mascot's ouster after a church member told the school board that using the "ruler of hell" as a mascot was a violation of the First Commandment, which forbids worship of false gods.
Bruce Denny, chairman of the school board, referred the complaint to the board's athletic subcommittee.
Meanwhile, the students at the high school have rallied around their mascot "as a point of school spirit," said John Onofrio, deputy superintendent of schools.
"They have worn shirts and blazers and tags that have their school mascot on it," he added. "In other words, they refer to the 'blue devil' with a small 'd,' not a capital 'D.' They view it not as a religous symbol but as a mascot."
Gov. Mark White of Texas has expressed disappointment in the lack of leadership provided by some state education officials in carrying out the provisions of the "Educational Opportunity Act of 1984."
That measure, which provides $2.8 million for education reform, was approved by the legislature in a special summer session and signed into law on July 13. (See Education Week, Aug. 22, 1984.) It went into effect last month.
The Governor raised the leadership issue in a recent press interview. He believes, said an aide, that "there has not been the positive leadership and the advocacy that we feel would be necessary to ensure that the provisions of the bill were smoothly implemented."
"The state needs strong leadership," the aide added, noting that this is a time of transition during which, as mandated by the reform act, the State Board of Education has changed from an elected body of 27 members to an appointed body of 15 members.
The new board met for the first time on Oct. 3 and 4, at which time Chairman Jon Brumley, a businessman from Fort Worth, and the other members were sworn into office. A second meeting is scheduled for Oct. 20.
The Art of Whittling Whistles
Vol. 04, Issue 07