Harford County school to keep Indian mascot

Board endorses decision on symbol of Havre de Grace High

`Comfortable with it'

October 30, 2001|By Lane Harvey Brown | Lane Harvey Brown,SUN STAFF

A community panel charged with deciding the fate of Havre de Grace High School's Warrior mascot has voted to retain the American Indian symbol, Harford County's superintendent of schools announced last night to the Board of Education, which unanimously endorsed the group's recommendation.

After the vote, board member Robert B. Thomas Jr. said he hoped the state would not "waste resources, energy and time" examining the issue further "when there are far more pressing issues pertaining to public education in this state."

The decision was a disappointment to Richard Regan, a Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs member who said this month that he felt Harford deserved "an A+" in its approach to the thorny issue of the school's symbol, an image of an Indian chief in full headdress.

"I think it is a sad day when the public school system has more in common with the Ku Klux Klan than an advocacy group representing Maryland's American Indians," said Regan, reached by telephone last night.

The 12-member panel, appointed by Havre de Grace High School Principal Stephen R. Williams, met three times this month, including one discussion with Regan and Dixie L. Henry, executive director of the Indian Affairs commission. The group also took testimony from alumni and community members.

The state school board adopted a resolution from the Indian Affairs commission in July to stop the use of Native American mascots in public schools. The resolution leaves the final decision to local boards.

Williams was contacted in August by Harford's Superintendent Jacqueline Haas, who said the issue would be best handled at the community level.

"We're very comfortable with it here in Havre de Grace," Williams said of the decision after it was announced by Haas at the board's meeting in Aberdeen.

"It really boiled down to the fact that there was no evidence that we were involved in any of the things stated" by the commission, he said. Those included destroying the self-esteem of American Indian children and creating a hostile learning environment.

The panel also submitted four recommendations on how the school - and Havre de Grace's middle and elementary schools - should proceed, which included reviewing Indian treatment in the curriculum and avoiding negative depictions of Indians. The middle and elementary schools have American Indian mascots.

"I don't know that it's over yet," Haas said after the school board vote, adding that state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick will report on statewide progress on the issue to the Maryland Board of Education next month.

Regan said that when the Indian Affairs commission meets next week, it will release a report card on how school districts are doing on the mascot issue.

"I've got a feeling we're going to be giving a lot of bad grades," he said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.