JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) — In what could be a costly project for the district, the public school in Jamestown has been ordered to find a different mascot name.
Jamestown Public School Superintendent tells us discontent with the Red Raider name and Native American imagery started over 20 years ago.
“In 2001 the State Education Commissioner by the name of Richard Mills, at the time sent out a letter,“ explained Superintendent Dr. Kevin Whitaker. “And that letter said please school districts consider your mascots, and your nicknames, and your imagery. In that letter he did specifically mention Native American and indigenous peoples.”
According to the Superintendent if the district doesn’t change anything, the school may not receive state aid.
“Our budget is nearly entirely funded by state aid,” stated Dr. Whitaker. “So with that Education Law 306, enabling the commissioner to withhold state aid if a school district were to disobey a regulation or directive. Which he clearly has given, and is about to be voted on by the board of regents coming up here in April, to make it official regulation.”
Funding to comply with the state mandate will most likely come from taxpayers.
“Well, they have said there’s not going to be funding,“ explained Dr. Whitaker. “There isn’t a final decision from the board of regents, so we don’t know that for sure yet. But listening to conversations from the board of regents members, and listening to the state education department, I would not anticipate any funding coming from the state for this. Their perspective is, Richard Mills told you 22 years ago that you really should change, and you should have thought of that by now.”
In late 2021 the school board voted to discontinue use of a ‘J with feathers” after consultation with the Seneca Nation of Indians about its misuse. At the time, the Red Raider nickname remained.
“In the end zone, on the back of the bleachers at strider field, in a number of other locations where it says Red Raiders,” stated Dr. Whitaker. “Including uniforms, including other various expensive things that we need to address.”
While the physical changes do not need to be completed immediately, a plan must be presented to the state by the end of the 2022-2023 school year, with all changes expected by 2025.