A message from the superintendent regarding the school mascot ruling

Dear Liberty family,

As you may be aware, the New York State Education Department recently mandated that schools stop using Native American mascots, logos and imagery or risk losing state aid and school officers.

Following a state Supreme Court ruling, SED has determined that Liberty and the dozens of schools across the state who use Indian mascots and imagery are in violation of The Dignity for All Students Act.

DASA prohibits “the creation of a hostile environment … that … reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause … emotional harm to a student,” a condition that could be created through the use of Native American mascots, SED said.

For more than 20 years, districts have been encouraged to move away from use of these symbols, but many continued to use the Indian mascot, believing that it is meant to honor the native tribes.

“Arguments that community members support the use of such imagery or that it is ‘respectful’ to Native Americans are no longer tenable,” SED said in its mandate.

We here at Liberty have been “The Indians” for nearly 75 years. Many of our students, staff and alumni are proud to be the Liberty Indians. And while we do take pride in the accomplishments we have had as Indians, it is now time to find a different mascot.

We soon will begin discussions on what that mascot will be.

The state Board of Regents, which supervises school districts, is expected to issue further guidance in the coming months.

While we do not yet have a plan on how the changeover will take place, we do know in the coming months we will seek input from all sectors of the Liberty school community.

We know this is going to be a big change for our school community. We hope everyone will offer constructive feedback to help make Liberty a great place to learn for all.

Sincerely,

Dr. Patrick Sullivan

Superintendent of Schools