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Wisconsin May Add Steps for Removing Race-Based School Mascots

An Assembly committee has advanced a bill, requiring people who want to change a school nickname to gather signatures and prove discriminatory effects.

The plan would also scrap the rules the Dept. of Public Instruction put in place a few years ago. It required schools to drop race-based mascots, if one person in the community found them objectionable. The DPI ordered several districts to change.

Under the plan the Assembly Government Operations Committee approved 7-4, anyone who finds a school nickname offensive and wants it changed, would have to collect residents' signatures on a petition, equal to at least 10 percent of the district's enrollment. The individual would also have to prove the nickname encourages the stereotyping. The Dept. of Administration would make the final determination.

The issue gained intensity in Mukwonago, which uses the nickname, Indians. After a resident complained about the name, the DPI ordered it changed. School leaders have refused, citing the cost involved and the opinions of many residents.   

Wednesday's vote was along party lines with all Republicans voting in favor, all Democrats, opposed.

The full Assembly may vote next week.