main content starts hereSuperintendent Update

| November 18, 2022

Dear Mohonasen Parents, Faculty/Staff, and Community Members,

Late yesterday afternoon, all public school districts received an update from the New York State Education Department (SED).  We routinely receive such updates; however, one item in this update is potentially relevant to Mohonasen and, understandably, it is an area of significant concern for our community depending upon the yet-to-be determined specifics of what this may mean for us.  Below you will find the SED update itself, which is a summary of their full memo, which may be accessed here

While we do not have a Native American mascot or any caricatured images of Native Americans, we do have our logo depicting three Native Americans from the three tribes that our name, Mohonasen, is made up of:  Mohawk, Onondaga, and Seneca, all members of the Iroquois Confederacy.

At this time it is unclear what specific changes may be mandated which could potentially affect our name, Mohonasen, our designation as the Warriors, and/or our depiction of the three tribes via our logo.  Of note, the memo from SED states, “The Department is developing regulations that will clarify school districts’ obligations in this respect.”  Given the fact that SED plans to issue further specifics on this, we will wait before taking any action.

I will keep you posted regarding all aspects of this situation, and I suspect that once the SED clarification document comes out that this will be publicly discussed at future Board of Education meetings as well. 

Shannon Shine


Use of Indigenous/Native American Mascots

  • The State Education Department (SED) wishes to ensure school districts’ knowledge of a recent legal decision and their concomitant need to ensure that mascots, team names, and logos are non-discriminatory in the attached memo.
  • In 2001, former Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills issued a memorandum “conclud[ing] that the use of Native American symbols or depictions as mascots can become a barrier to building a safe and nurturing school community and improving academic achievement for all students.” He asked boards of education “to end the use of Native American mascots as soon as practical” and many school districts heeded this directive while others have not.
  • In a Commissioner’s Decision, which was subsequently upheld in State Supreme Court, it was established that public school districts are prohibited from utilizing Native American mascots. Arguments that community members support the use of such imagery or that it is “respectful” to Native Americans are no longer tenable.
  • Those school districts that continue to utilize Indigenous/Native American team names, logos, and/or imagery must immediately come into compliance. Should they require guidance, districts may reach out to those districts that successfully retired their mascots or their local Board of Cooperative Education Services. The Department is developing regulations that will clarify school districts’ obligations in this respect.