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Judge rules citizens had no authority to sue over high school Indian mascot change

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Mukwonago Indians logo
Mukwonago Indians logo

WAUKESHA, WI (WTAQ) - A state law that requires public schools to drop their Indian mascots and team names received a new lease on life Thursday.

The Second District Appeals Court reversed a circuit judge’s ruling that the state violated due process, in ordering that Mukwonago High School drop its nickname of the Indians.

The appellate court ruled that the two taxpayers who sued over the state’s order – Craig Verta and James Schoolcraft – did not have the legal standing to file their action.

The 2010 law allows anyone offended by a school’s Indian moniker to have the state Department of Public Instruction hold a hearing – and then decide whether the name discriminates against Indians.

If so, the affected school board must make a change or face large penalties.

Schoolcraft and Verta convinced a Waukesha County judge that a DPI employee who ordered the Mukwonago name change had a high risk of bias. But the appellate court said Verta and Schoolcraft were never part of the hearing process, and therefore had no right to sue.

Their attorney, Sam Hall, disagrees – and he promises an appeal to the State Supreme Court.

Hall said all taxpayers should be able to challenge a process that quote, “could cost them thousands of dollars and otherwise impact their community.”

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