ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — It’s official. The Board of Regents finalized new measures to prohibit the use of indigenous names, mascots, and logos by public schools. So what’s next for schools across the state as the rebranding process continues? The Department will work with stakeholders to create guidance on the regulations.

“It got to a point where we felt we needed to clarify and make it clear that districts needed to know, those districts who did not previously comply needed to comply,” said Jim Baldwin, Senior Deputy Commissioner for the Stated Education Department. The issue dates back to 2001, when former Education Commissioner, Richard Mills asked schools to end the use of Native American imagery in school emblems. Some schools complied, but not all – that is until the mandate was made official today. 

Some have criticized the initiative, saying if these mascots are no longer used, people will have no education on Native Americans, but Baldwin disagreed, “You know the New York State learning standards include the requirement that students be educated about the history of indigenous peoples, and we think that’s the best way for students to learn about the contributions of indigenous peoples.”

In part the regulation reads: “The New York Association of School Psychologists (NYASP) concluded that ‘research studies’ have consistently shown that the use of mascots and Indigenous symbols and imagery have a negative impact on not only Indigenous [students] but all students.” According to the National Congress of American Indians, there’s a total of 108 schools across 51 districts in New York that will need to change their mascot or team names moving forward. Districts are required to have an action plan by the end of this school year.