By next week, Pocatello’s oldest high school might be looking for a new mascot.
Pocatello-Chubbuck School District 25 announced on Thursday that the district’s administration has recommended Pocatello High School jettison Indians, the name used by the school’s many sports teams.
The district’s school board will have the final say on the matter and appears poised to make a decision in one week’s time.
The strangely short time frame on such an emotionally charged issue will make many people feel that this decision has likely already been made.
The board will consider the mascot name change at its 11 a.m. Tuesday work session, a meeting that the vast majority of district residents as well as students won’t be able to attend because of its timing.
The students will obviously be in class and the adults will be working — likely playing catch-up at their jobs because Tuesday is most people’s first day back at work following the Labor Day holiday.
How convenient, the school board’s critics on this issue are probably saying.
The board could make its final decision on the Indians mascot at a meeting exactly one week later.
At least the Tuesday, Sept. 15, meeting will be at a time — 5:30 p.m. — that will be more conducive to district residents, not to mention Pocatello High students and teachers, attending.
Both meetings are presently scheduled to be held at the district’s main office on Pole Line Road, which means seating will be extremely limited.
The district’s critics have probably noticed that, too.
Judging from the hundreds of comments posted on the Idaho State Journal’s Facebook page within only a few hours of the district’s mascot retirement announcement, it’s clear that a large segment of Pocatello’s population will want to chime in on this issue.
We suggest that if the board and district administrators are really interested in what district residents think about the Indians mascot, that they stretch out this process rather than try to do it in record time.
Native American mascot debates are becoming common and rarely does this issue rear its head without a great deal of controversy, including a lengthy community discussion.
Whether it’s the Washington Redskins or the Teton High School Redskins or the Pocatello High School Indians, these mascots are steeped in history and emotions run extremely high when there’s talk of “retiring” them.
Some if not many in our community without a doubt feel like the fix is in regarding School District 25’s decision to tackle this issue now — during a worldwide pandemic that’s limiting face-to-face interaction at everything from the local grocery store to government meetings.
Would even the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, the apparent driving force behind this change, object if the debate and decision occurred during less tension-filled times, when people feel like they could attend a packed school board meeting without catching a deadly virus?
And even if the tribes demanded immediate action on the issue, the district would have good reason to say let’s wait for the pandemic to pass.
But all district residents are likely going to get is one week to comment — and realistically only one school board meeting.
And the school board could only have one week to decide — unless you believe board members and district administrators have been planning this move behind closed doors for months.
School District 25 is no stranger to controversy and when you’re a large public school system some of that is unavoidable.
One would think that the lesson learned by district officials from those past missteps would be to be as transparent as possible. The district could have emerged better from past debacles had it simply given the appearance that it cared about the public’s take on the hot button issue du jour.
Some might surmise in looking at how this mascot issue is being handled that the lesson the district’s leaders unfortunately took away from those past episodes is to ram tough decisions through as quickly as possible because apparently district leaders know best, and who are we or you to question them.
We fear that our district’s leaders are about to get a very rude awakening.