Oregon school district suspends mascot fight

Legislative action on Native American names awaited

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ROSEBURG, Ore. — The Roseburg School Board has suspended its legal challenge to the state ban on Native American mascots after learning it was unlikely to win.

The Oregon Board of Education approved the ban last May after months of passionate and emotional debate about tolerance and tradition. It requires Oregon teams such as the Roseburg Indians to come up with a new mascot by July 2017, or risk losing state funding.

Roseburg School Board Chairman Steve Patterson said board members were recently informed the district would likely lose a court battle, and that the state Board of Education does have the authority to withhold money if schools don't switch their nicknames, mascots and logos.

The district has not ruled out restarting its legal challenge, but will wait to see if the Legislature takes any action on the matter.

"It's much too early to say we're going to abandon our disagreement with the state on the ban," Patterson told the News-Review. "We're going to wait and see what the Legislature does."

State Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, has drafted a bill that says the Board of Education doesn't have jurisdiction over state mascots. And Rep. Sherrie Springer, R-Scio, drafted a bill waiving the ban for districts that have gained mascot approval from nearby tribes.