The New York State Education Department said it will withhold state funding by the end of the academic year from any public school that uses a Native American mascot, USA Today reported.
The only exceptions will be for schools that receive approval of a mascot from a recognized tribe.
In addition, any use of Native American logos is also no longer permitted without approval.
The directive was made known in a letter sent by State Education Department senior deputy commissioner James Baldwin, who noted a memorandum from more than two decades ago that "the use of Native American symbols or depictions as mascots can become a barrier to building a safe and nurturing school community and improving academic achievement for all students."
The letter laments that not all school districts have complied with the 2001 memorandum.
"Schools are learning environments; students learn as much through observation of their surroundings as they do from direct instruction," Baldwin wrote in the letter. "In addition to their legal obligations, boards of education that continue to utilize Native American mascots must reflect upon the message their choices convey to students, parents, and their communities."
The letter also pointed to the decision of the state Supreme Court in June to uphold a ruling from the state Commissioner of Education that held the Cambridge Central School District's decision to retain its "Indians" mascot and nickname after voting to get rid of them a month earlier in June of 2021 "inhibited the creation of a safe and supportive environment for all students."
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