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District refuses to drop Indian nickname despite court ruling

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A Wisconsin school district has refused to get rid of its Indian nickname and logo despite a court ruling supporting a state order to drop it.

Legislators passed a law in 2010 giving the state Department of Public Instruction the authority to force schools to drop race-based nicknames, logos and mascots if a complaint was filed and the agency found the names or images were discriminatory.

The Mukwonago Area School District has used the Indian nickname and a logo of an Indian man in a headdress for more than 80 years. An area resident filed a complaint about them after the law was passed, and DPI determined they were race-based. The agency ordered the district to drop them.

District parents challenged the order, but the 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled last week that they have no standing. The district now has until 2014 to drop the nickname, according to DPI officials.

But Superintendent Paul Strobel said the district has no plans to change its nickname. He said district officials have asked Republican legislators to repeal the law granting DPI the authority to strip nicknames from schools, and parents are preparing to ask the state Supreme Court to take up their case.

A spokesman for Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said Nass is considering legislation to repeal the law or to require someone who files a complaint to prove a nickname discriminates against a student.

DPI spokesman Patrick Gasper didn’t immediately return telephone and email messages.

Barbara Munson, an Oneida Indian who chairs the Wisconsin Indian Education Association’s Indian Mascot and Logo Task Force, said she’s frustrated with the district’s stance. She said everyone needs to respect different cultures.

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