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Lancaster schools to hold special meeting on controversial name

The Lancaster School District will hold a special meeting Monday night to “address the current mascot topic.”

School district leaders have been under increasing pressure to decide whether to allow the school’s mascot and athletics teams to continue to be called the “Redskins.”

The issue has divided Lancaster, where some consider the term offensive and a racial slur against Native Americans while others say it is part of the community’s tradition and was never meant to offend anyone.

Superintendent Michael J. Vallely declined to comment on the nature of Monday’s meeting. The district announced the meeting Friday on its website and no other details were made public.

The meeting will be held in the multi-purpose room of the William Street School, 5201 William St., Lancaster. The “call to order” is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. with the public session to commence at about 7 p.m.

This week, the Niagara Wheatfield Central School District joined the Akron and Lake Shore districts in boycotting nonleague lacrosse games against Lancaster Central School over the “Redskins” name. Students who play for the Niagara Wheatfield junior varsity girls lacrosse team told their coaches that they did not want to play their game against Lancaster in late April.

Of 4,200 students enrolled in Niagara Wheatfield, 255 are Tuscaroran. The Akron and Lake Shore districts, which earlier decided to cancel games against Lancaster, also field lacrosse teams with Native American members.

Lancaster is one of only three school districts in the state still using the “Redskins” nickname.

A pro-“Redskins” group has sought to persuade school leaders and School Board members to retain the “Redskins” nickname, maintaining it was never put in place to be offensive, but is a source of pride and tradition in the community.

The group has urged Lancaster residents and the media to stop using the term “mascot” in describing the nickname. Instead, the group wants people to use “representative, logo or honorific” when describing the nickname.

A representative of the group could not be reached for comment Friday about next week’s meeting.

Meanwhile, the Lancaster district has made moves to distance itself from its the mascot and nickname.

This school year was the first time that someone was not dressed as the mascot at school sporting events. For the last five years, the district said it has not been ordering sports uniforms with the name or logo on them, although student athletes often spend their own money to add that. The new football scoreboard also has no reference to the nickname.