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Tulsa's Union Public Schools Ends Use Of Mascot Name, Logo

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Union Public Schools
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Union Public Schools in Tulsa, one of the largest public school districts in the state, voted unanimously Monday night to remove its mascot name and logo.

In a 5-0 vote, the board accepted the recommendation a board-appointed committee made last week. The 35-member committee, which included teachers, students and Native American alumni, overwhelmingly voted to get rid of the name that is considered offensive and a racial slur towards Native Americans.

"We took a serious look at research related to Native American mascots and the effect on students, both Native and non-Native, and none of it is positive," said Chris Payne, chairman of the committee and Chief Communications Officer for the district.

While the old mascot name will be removed, Superintendent Kirt Hartzler said the district would need time for it to be fully scrubbed. He said the district will evaluate uniforms and associated imagery through August 2021.

The district will also take some time before selecting a new mascot name.

"I suspect we will just be comfortable being Union for a while," Hartzler said. "Later, we may consider potential mascots."

The Washington Football Team changed its name in July. That prompted Union, which has used the name for nearly a century, to consider doing the same.

This story was updated on November 10 at 9:01 a.m.

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Allison Herrera is a radio and print journalist who's worked for PRX's The World, Colorado Public Radio as the climate and environment editor and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk.
Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
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