April 18: Superintendent Update

Dear Mohonasen,

The NYS Board of Regents (NYSBOR) met yesterday and today as scheduled. One of their agenda items was to formally adopt their regulations pertaining to banning the use of Native American names/logos/mascots by school districts in New York State. The final regulations were adopted and have been released, along with a number of comments/questions and “Department Responses”. Both the regulations and the Q&A may be found here: Board of Regents Rule and Comments.

For Mohonasen, there are essentially four things the regulations address. These include our name “Mohonasen”, our two logos — one with the three Native American silhouettes and the other an “M” with a spear and feather — and finally, our sports team designation as the Warriors.  

Names of districts which have connections to Native Americans, such as “Mohonasen”, are clearly allowed to remain in place according to the adopted regulations; however, it appears the NYSBOR’s final regulatory determination requires our two logos and our team name to be phased out over the next two years.  

The Board of Education is receiving this news today along with the rest of our community. Time is needed to digest the information, to seek legal counsel, to see what additional information is put forward from the NYS Education Department and the NYSBOR, and to plan to further engage with our community stakeholders (parents, alumni, students, faculty/staff, and residents) regarding the new regulations. No action regarding the adopted regulations is planned for tomorrow evening’s Board of Education meeting. 

It appears the NYSBOR will be reaching out to districts that are affected by the new regulations. The original November memo (Use of Native American Mascots) indicated that districts have until the end of June 2023 to affirm that they will come into compliance with the regulations over the subsequent two years. The specific language, including potential penalties for non-compliance, was as follows: 

Should a district fail to affirmatively commit to replacing its Native American team name, logo, and/or imagery by the end of the 2022-23 school year, it may be in willful violation of the Dignity Act. The penalties for such a violation include the removal of school officers and the withholding of State Aid.

I will continue to keep you informed concerning this. In the meantime, should you wish to offer comments to me or the Board of Education, you may email us at BoardofEducation@Mohonasen.org.

Yours in Service,

Shannon Shine, Superintendent