CANISTEO, N.Y. (WETM) – The Canisteo-Greenwood School District is in the process of replacing its mascot, which it said it was already reviewing when the NYS Education Department gave schools a deadline.

NYSED instructed all school districts in New York to replace any Indigenous team name, logos, and imagery by the end of the 2022-23 academic year. Schools that don’t comply could see the removal of school officers and withholding of State Aid, NYSED said.

Canisteo-Greenwood, which currently has the mascot “Redskins”, announced that the school district had already formed committees in August 2022 to review the mascot. The review process consisted of a survey (ending on Nov. 18) and two community meetings to then make a decision on whether the district should keep or replace the mascot based on community feedback.

CG’s plan was to review the survey results and community feedback on Nov. 21 and present it to the Board of Education in its December meeting.

The district said it had held the two community meetings the two days before the instruction came from NYSED on Nov. 17. Superintendent Thomas Crook’s announcement said the school will still review survey results and hold community meetings for the sake of transparency before making any decisions.

The NYSED decision, sent to school districts on Nov. 17, 2022, said, “Arguments that community members support the use of such imagery or that it is “respectful” to Native Americans are no longer tenable.” The Department said the decision is intended to make schools a safer environment for all students, not just Indigenous students.

The memo sent to schools stems from the Cambridge School District appealing the Education Commissioner’s decision to uphold a change of the school’s “Indians” mascot. Cambridge had previously decided to change the mascot in 2021 but reversed the decision a month later.

Bradford School District, which has the mascot “Braves” with a logo of a Native American. 18 News has reached out to the school district for comment on its plans and is waiting to hear back.

Watkins Glen schools decided at the beginning of 2022 to keep the mascot name “Senecas” but remove all Indigenous imagery from logos and uniforms.

Crook’s full announcement can be read below:

Good evening,

Although deep down I knew that this day would eventually come, I wasn’t expecting it to be in the middle of our work with the Mascot Committee and community involvement through a survey and community meetings. My goal was to provide the community the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns around the use of the Redskins mascot and assist the committee in providing feedback to make a recommendation to the Board of Education.

I wanted you to hear from me first, before it breaks in the news cycle, that the State Education Department just released a memo to all schools regarding the use of Native American Mascots. I will summarize the memo to let you know that “those districts that continue to utilize Native American team names, logos, and/or imagery without current approval from a recognized tribe must immediately come into compliance (referring back to a 2001 memo from then Commissioner to change Native American mascots and the current Dignity Act)….”should a district fail to affirmatively commit to replacing its Native American team name, logo, and/or imagery by the end of the 2022-2023 school year, it may be in willful violation of the Dignity Act. The penalties for such a violation include the removal of school officers and the withholding of State Aid”.

In all fairness to the committee and their time, I will recommend that we “finish” our work and review the survey results and community meeting feedback. I think it will be fair for the community to know how those results transpired. We have come too far to stop.

I am sure there will be much conversation in the upcoming days and I will have some time to process this, but you needed to know before it hit the news cycle tonight.

Thomas Crook, Canisteo-Greenwood Superintendent

The NYSED memo sent to schools on Nov. 17 can be read below: