Massapequa School District votes to comply with state's ban on Native American mascots
The Massapequa School District has made an about-face when it comes to the state ban on Native American school mascots.
The district voted unanimously Thursday night during a board meeting to comply with the ban, but officials say they will challenge the order in court.
The district has been vocally against the state directive since it came down.
The vote came before the last day of school and ahead of next Friday's deadline to comply with the state ban. Any school district that does not comply could face a loss of state funding.
The deadline to change logos and names is June 2025.
About a dozen districts across Long Island are affected by the ban, and some have already announced resolutions to change mascots and logos. A few others have lost appeals.
Jolanta Zuar, who has lived in Massapequa for over four decades, says she is concerned about the name change because it is sentimental for her, and she wants to know who is going to pay for it.
"Where are they going to get that money from?" Zuar asks. "Are they going to raise our taxes now to pay for all of this stuff?"
Executive Director of Section VII Patrick Pizzarelli says schools say it is going to cost between $500,000 to $700,000 to complete the requirements needed to comply with the state ban.
"They are not budgeted for all this, all of the sudden a $600,000 hit to their budget is not pennies, so they are going to have to take it from somewhere else," Pizzarelli says.
The district released a statement saying in part, "It is no secret, the Chief logo is not just an image. It is Massapequa's history and has been adopted by more than just our school district. To showcase the logo and the pride felt by our community, we have developed a video to highlight our heritage. As the saying goes, "Once a Chief, Always a Chief."
The State Education Department says costs to school districts associated with the removal of Native American symbols and names can be offset by building aid.
Building aid is available for certain approved capital outlays and debt serves for schools where the construction costs of the project are $10,000 or more.