SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — The Social Circle Redskin stays put.
That’s the message from Social Circle City Schools, which issued a statement explaining why the traditional Native American imagery, which has proven controversial especially in recent months, will remain for the time being.
The mascot proved a lightning rod for conflict in the weeks following the announcement of the NFL’s Washington Football Team — previously the Washington Redskins — to abandon its mascot after years of protests over the term, which many in the Native American community consider a slur.
Similar protests began to emerge in local meetings of the Social Circle Board of Education, as student, teachers and alumni banded together to demand the Redskins mascot be retired. This, in turn, inspired counter-protests from those who defended the mascot as traditional and insisted it stay right where it is.
“During the last three board meetings, several individuals addressed the board regarding our high school mascot,” city schools Superintendent Robbie Hooker said. “While some speakers have requested that we change the mascot name, others have asked that we maintain it. We have listened intently and respectfully to both sides.”
Hooker said the mascot would remain, due in part to budget constraints and pandemic conditions.
“Our governance team believes that our main focus right now should be on keeping our students, staff and faculty healthy and safe during this pandemic,” Hooker said. “In addition, this pandemic has caused significant budget issues. The cost of changing our mascot at this time is simply cost prohibitive.”
Hooker also said the issue did not seem to be of concern to many in the community, as the controversy had not emerged in recent discussions of future needs for the system.
“We recently completed an in-depth strategic planning process garnering input from stakeholders — parents, students, staff and community members —representing all areas of our community,” Hooker said. “During the development of the 5-year strategic plan, this issue was not identified as being something that needed to be addressed. Therefore, at this time there will be no change as it relates to our mascot.”
Ultimately, Hooker said the issue was just not a significant concern in the shadow of COVID-19, which weighs heavily on school decisions at all times at the moment.
“We are proud of the high level of student and staff participation in mask-wearing and robust protocols in our school system to mitigate the spread of disease,” Hooker said. “Please continue to wear masks when social distancing is not possible, stay home when you are sick and sanitize your hands regularly. We aim to remain open for face to face instruction and need your continued support. We are thankful to serve in such a caring community and appreciate your support for our students and staff.”
The SCBOE will meet next at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15 in the Social Circle Middle School Activity Center to allow social distancing. Those who wish to address the board on the mascot issue or any other topic may sign up online at socialcircleschools.com.