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Reps want Michigan department to end American Indian mascot complaint

Michigan Dept. of Civil Rights
Michigan Radio

Update 4:10 p.m.

Here's the update from MPRN's Rick Pluta:

Republican lawmakers at the state Capitol have some harsh words for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights .

During a budget hearing today, state Representative Anthony Forlini , said the department has no business filing a complaint with the federal government against Michigan schools.

“Where does it stop? I mean if you’ve got, for instance, an eagle, which is an endangered species, can you imagine the guilt of a team that beats a team that’s named after an endangered species? You can go on and on with this.”

Department representative Leslee Fritz, says there are studies that show the mascots and nicknames hurt American Indian student performance.

“What our complaint filing argues is that that is no longer the issue that’s at play here, that, in fact, research shows that the use of American Indian mascots, imagery, etcetera, is harming children’s performance in the classroom.”

Republican lawmakers want the department to withdraw the complaint. The Republican chair of the House Education committee has also called on the department to withdraw the complaint.

They say the decision on mascots and nicknames should be entirely up to districts.

10:56 p.m.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education over the use of American Indian mascots and images in 35 Michigan K-12 schools last week.

Here's a list of the schools named in the complaint:

35 Michigan Schools listed in the complaint.
Credit Michigan Radio

Now, some state representatives are calling on the department to end its complaint with the federal government.

The Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta will have a story for us later today on the efforts to stop the complaint.

Here's a tweet he just sent out from the state House Education Committee:

And here's more from the Associated Press:

Michigan's House Education committee chairwoman is calling on a state department to rescind its complaint over the use of American Indian mascots in schools. Alto Republican Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons released a statement Monday criticizing the Michigan Department of Civil Rights for taking its complaint to the federal level. The department filed the complaint last week with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights asking to ban the use of American Indian mascots and imagery in K-12 schools and deny funding to schools that continue to use them. The complaint says the use of the mascots denies equal rights to American Indian students. Lyons says the department is "putting students' education funding at risk for political gain." She says the issue should be resolved at the local level.

Mark Brush was Michigan Radio’s Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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