Genetski measure protects school funding if mascot changes become necessary

Categories: News

Saugatuck funding in jeopardy from state department

 Michigan public schools required to change their Native American imagery mascots due to a complaint by a state department earlier this year would not have to pay for any costs incurred in the change under legislation introduced today by Rep. Bob Genetski.

House Bill 4734 earmarks $3 million from the budget of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to cover schools’ potential expenses for changing mascots, should the federal complaint be successful.  This money will go to the Mascot Reimbursement Fund created in House Bill 4735, which is tie-barred to Genetski’s legislation.  The fund will be administered by the Michigan Department of Education who will disperse funds if schools are forced to make the changes.

“The civil rights department filed its complaint independently, without input from local citizens, so it can pay for any necessary changes it may have caused,” said Genetski, R-Saugatuck. “Our schools need all of their funding focused in the classroom educating our children, not being taken up by somebody’s special pet project.”

The state Department of Civil Rights in February filed a complaint with the federal Department of Education, requesting a withholding of funds unless there was a removal of all Native American mascots and imagery, including logos and slogans, from Michigan public schools.

A total of 35 Michigan schools were listed in the complaint, including the Saugatuck Indians. When the complaint was filed, Genetski coordinated a letter from House lawmakers to MDCR Director Daniel Krichbaum requesting the complaint be withdrawn or the 80th District lawmaker would sponsor legislation to use the state department’s funding.