At a special working meeting Tuesday afternoon, the Teton School District 401 Board of Trustees voted 4-1 to retire the Redskins name.
It was a long and contentious debate, and Tuesday’s meeting drew roughly 175 people and 200 viewers on a Facebook live stream.
The board discussed the contentious issue for two hours after more than two hours of small-group conversations. The small-group format was chosen so that every person attending had a chance to interact directly with school board members and with each other.
Board members rotated between the groups of community members, hearing input from those of differing viewpoints on the issue. The board members had questions or topics to start the conversation, including how best to preserve tradition at the high school, ways to honor the area’s Native American heritage, and ideas regarding moving forward in the process.
Prior to the small-group breakout, Superintendent of Schools Monte Woolstenhulme presented a one-time cost estimate of about $30,000 to remove and replace district-provided signage and equipment, including athletic uniforms, that say Redskins.
The decision eliminates taxpayer funds for the transition and sets the stage for the board to create a plan to move forward with community input.
The exact motion, made by board member Mary Mello with suggested amendments from board member Jake Kunz, was: “I move we retire the Redskin name, with a commitment to the community that we will not use taxpayer money to fund the removement of the name, and that we will move forward in a slow, responsible, respectful manner involving all stakeholders.” The motion was seconded by board vice-chair Nan Pugh. Board member Ben Kearsley voted against the motion.
Karen Echevarria, Executive Director of the Idaho School Board Association, helped facilitate the meeting.
The board scheduled another work meeting on Tuesday, July 30 at 6 p.m., also at Driggs Elementary, to accommodate public interest in starting to develop the plan to execute the decision.
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