TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins made it clear at Tuesday’s school board meeting controversial Native American mascots would not be reinstated at six schools, despite efforts from some parents and students to save the mascots.
The district decided to do away with the mascots at Adams Middle School, Brooker Elementary, Forest Hills Elementary, Ruskin Elementary, Summerfield Elementary, and Thonotosassa Elementary last month at the recommendation at a Native American parent advisory board.
“We are telling them to remove the cartoons because I am a Native American, and I am not a mascot,” said Jaymie Perez, who serves on the advisory board.
However, the administration soon faced pushback both from parents and students who wanted to keep the mascots, and the school board which was not a part of the decision-making process.
A petition started by ten-year-old Maggie Ramos at Brooker Elementary to Save the Braves fueled much of the protest and drove the board last week to add a discussion to Tuesday’s school board agenda.
As of Tuesday, that petition had gathered more than 900 signatures in roughly a month.
Ultimately, Superintendent Eakins said the mascot changes are still going to move forward. However, he offered to let individual schools take the transition at a pace the principals feel is appropriate.
A spokesperson for the district says the six schools have already voted on new mascots but none of the changes have been implemented.
“Why do we need to take time?” Perez asked after Tuesday’s meeting. “If it was any other culture standing here in front of you today, it would have been changed yesterday!”
Jessica Ramos, Maggie Ramos’ mother, was disappointed that her daughter’s efforts stalled out but proud she was brave enough to try.
“Standing up for what you believe, despite what happened, is the best lesson you can learn,” Ramos said.
The new mascots will be as follows:
- Adams Golden Eagles
- Brooker Bolts
- Forest Hills Panthers
- Ruskin Rockets
- Summerfield Sharks
- Thonotosassa Thunderbolts