At the Jan. 9 Syosset Central School District Board of Education meeting, an update was given on where the district currently stands on its mascot, “The Braves.”
As previously reported by Anton Media Group’s Amanda Olsen, a New York state court upholding the prohibition on Native American depictions in mascots, team names and logos will affect several districts across Long Island, including Syosset. The school district’s team name and logos will have to be retired by the end of the school year or the district will lose state funding.
Senior Deputy Commissioner James Baldwin wrote in the letter that went out statewide to school districts that arguments that suggest the community supports the use of such imagery or that the imagery is “respectful” to Native Americans is no longer tenable.
Late last year, Dr. Thomas Rogers, the Syosset Central School District superintendent, told the Syosset Jericho Tribune that “The department directed that school districts must eliminate the use of such imagery no later than June 30, 2023. The memorandum indicates that the Department will release detailed regulations on the topic which we are awaiting the opportunity to review.”
The Syosset Central School District Board of Education has been discussing the future of their mascot for their athletic teams.
Dr. Rogers said that he was following up with a request to research if the district would receive funding for the re-branding costs. He found that because other school districts made the switch ahead of these new guidelines, and paid for it out of their own pockets, it wasn’t likely that current schools that have Native American depictions as its mascots would receive funding.
But, the State Education Department has recognized its need to have an advisory council since it works with schools on Native American Reservations in New York.
“What is anticipated is that the advisory council will be constituted shortly and will meet shortly and in that advisory council there will be a sub-committee that is tasked specifically with dealing with mascots,” Dr. Rogers said. “The department understands that because of the budgetary implications and the short time lines, that whatever work they do, they need to do it before the districts get heavily engaged in their own budgets so that we or any other district similarly situated would have time to do planning in the budget. I anticipate that they’ll move quickly.”
Dr. Rogers confirmed that the board of education would have to retire the mascot by the end of June, but the imagery that’s associated with it would have to be phased out within two years.
“The last transition would occur no later than June of 2025,” Dr. Rogers said.
After being pressed on the funding issue, Dr. Rogers said he would see about getting funding through legislators that represent the district.
Also at the Syosset Central School District Jan. 9 Board of Education meeting:
To celebrate the Lunar New Year, Alan Huang, a senior at Syosset High School, introduced himself and his teammates at Sitan Tai Chi & Martial Arts in Syosset ahead of a Wushu Demonstration.
“Chinese Martial Arts and Wushu is a conglomerate of all the different styles and weapons and techniques that Chinese Martial Arts from all over the country uses,” Huang said. “Today we’ll just be choosing a select few to show you… The music and the performance that we’ll be performing for you will be from a modified version of the performance we did at the Times Square Ball Drop for the 2022 new year.”
To watch the performance, visit http://syossetsdny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Calendar.aspx and click on the video link under Jan. 9.
Dr. Rogers, the superintendent of the Syosset Central School District, also brought up Scott Stueber, the director of athletics, physical education and recreation, to recognize Fall Championship Athletic Teams, including members of the Boys Badminton Team; Boys Volleyball Team; Girls Varsity Volleyball Team; Girls Tennis Team; Girls Soccer Team; Boys Varsity Soccer Team; the Girls Cross Country Team; the Boys Track and Field Program and the Girls Varsity Swimming and Diving Team.
“It’s truly an honor to recognize the accomplishments of these fine, young athletes,” Stueber said. “One of the things I’m most proud of is that all 10 teams that are represented here, and one other team that doesn’t award All County in the fall season, but all 11 teams this past fall earned Scholar Athlete distinctions.”
At the meeting, interestingly, Dr. Rogers discussed a recent Board of Education announcement that would look into a 9 a.m. start time, similarly to the nearby Jericho School District. It would require dramatic changes, Dr. Rogers said, including that the elementary school day would have to be extended by 30 minutes, high school clubs and extra help would have to be held before school (students could take the middle school bus to make the early day programs), more loading spaces at the high school would have to be constructed so that students could load onto the buses expeditiously and sports buses would have to run later.
“We presented last month several different scenarios and this scenario is certainly plausible,” Dr. Rogers said. “I don’t think it has any fatal flaws, but it does have some sobering comprises that would be required. We would want to get some public engagement and see what the public thinks.”
The Board of Education envisions getting input from teachers, parents and students through an online survey.