Law & Courts

Wis. Lawmakers Aim to Repeal Mascot Name-Changing Law

By Bryan Toporek — March 01, 2011 1 min read
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Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin introduced a bill last week seeking to repeal legislation that empowers the state schools superintendent to force school districts to change team names, mascots, nicknames, and logos that are based on race or ethnicity.

Last year, former Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, signed the law into effect that allowed school district residents to challenge nicknames, logos, or mascots they find offensive. The state schools superintendent would then hold a hearing and could order districts to change the mascots within a year’s time.

At the time of the law’s passage, 36 districts had been highlighted as having potential for name changes. Since then, the department received complaints involving three school districts: Two, with the nickname of “Chieftains,” were ordered to change the name; the other, nicknamed the “Indians,” dropped the name voluntarily.

GOP Rep. Steve Nass, along with 16 other Assembly Republicans, now hope to undo Doyle’s mascot name-changing work, according to The Janesville Gazette.

The legislation

they propose would move the decisions on nicknames back to the local district level; the bill also includes a provision that would void any past naming mandates handed down by the state superintendent. The proposal would still allow residents to file complaints with their local school boards and appeal to the state superintendent if the school boards reach a “negative determination.” Nass has been targeting the mascot law since December, as he believes that the decision should be made locally, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.

Wisconsin was the first state to enact such a law; however, the NCAA banned schools from using American Indian mascots during NCAA postseason competitions back in 2005. Schools with American Indian mascots were also banned from hosting NCAA championships.

Nass and his colleagues introduced the bill last week, and it’s now been sent to the state Assembly’s Committee on Homeland Security and State Affairs for consideration.

And here you thought they were too busy in Wisconsin with protesters banging down their doors at the state Capitol to get anything else done.

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