Student Well-Being

California High Schools Move Toward Dropping ‘Redskins’ Mascots

By Bryan Toporek — February 18, 2016 2 min read
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In the wake of a new state law barring any public school from having a “Redskins” mascot, at least two California high schools have begun the process of making such a switch.

Gustine High School, one of the four high schools in California that began the school year with a “Redskins” mascot, became the first to officially announce a change after its district’s school board voted unanimously last week to switch to the “Reds,” per Brianna Calix of the Merced Sun Star. Local historian Pat Snoke told the paper the school originally had “Reds” as its mascot back in 1913, but it switched to “Redskins” in the mid-1930s due to the threat of communism.

Gustine Unified Superintendent Bill Morones said the district hopes to have the mascot and all necessary changes in place by the start of the 2016-17 school year. It’s waiting to hear about whether the state will help cover the cost of the mascot switch, as Morones estimated changing the gymnasium floor could cost upwards of $50,000, according to the paper. In total, Morones estimates the cost of the change to be around $200,000, according to ABC 30’s Jessica Peres.

“We wanted to expedite the process because we just didn’t want this lingering over our heads, more importantly, the students, teachers, and staff,” Morones told Peres.

In October, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation banning any public high school from using “Redskins” as a mascot, making California the first state to enact such legislation. (The Oregon board of education enacted a similar ban in 2012, but the state legislature has not followed suit.) The California bill requires schools to make the switch by Jan. 1, 2017, and prohibits the state board of education from overruling that requirement.

As for the issue of cost, if the California commission on state mandates determines the bill “contains cost mandated by the state,” California will be responsible for covering the cost of any school switching away from a “Redskins” mascot.

Aside from Gustine High School, Chowchilla Union High School, Tulare Union High School, and Calaveras High School were using “Redskins” as a mascot at the time of the law’s passage. Before the law’s passage, Tulare Union High School rallied to keep its mascot as is, enlisting the Tule River Tribal Council as an ally, according to Lewis Griswold of the Fresno Bee.

Four months later, the district finally decided to wave the white flag. It announced earlier this month that it plans on forming a committee to select a new mascot, with the board set to choose from a pool of finalists by the end of June, according to Rory Appleton of the Fresno Bee.

As of now, Chowchilla and Calaveras have yet to announce an official timeline as to when they plan on choosing a new mascot. According to Calix, “Chowchilla has said in the past it plans to leave the mascot in place until after the school celebrates its centennial anniversary in October.” Calaveras Superintendent Mark Campbell told Luis Hernandez of the Visalia Times-Delta that the school “will have a name by the next school year,” saying a committee will compile a list of choices and a vote will be held to pick the final mascot. Calavaras football coach Jason Weatherby estimated the cost of the change to be between $100,000 and $200,000, according to CBS Sacramento’s Leigh Martinez.


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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.


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