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Board votes to keep Rutland Ravens nickname

Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 4:10 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2021 at 7:31 AM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Rutland High School’s official mascot will remain the Ravens.

Tuesday night, the Rutland City School Board of Commissioners accepted the ad hoc committee’s report and the attorney’s findings in full, including the Ravens name.

During the meeting, tensions ran high, as some board members questioned why the ad hoc committee’s presentation of their report was listed as an action item on the agenda.

Hurley Cavacas, the Rutland City Board of School Commissioners chairperson, said there was a possibility of a vote regarding taking up new rules to follow, but he thought all board members should be present, as one was absent. But during the ad hoc committee’s report, Dena Goldberg, a board commissioner and ad hoc committee chair, said the attorney found the procedures followed were fair and the Ravens mascot stands.

“The motion that was presented to the board and was voted on is a binding motion,” Goldberg said.

It wasn’t until after a member of the public asked for clarification that a motion to vote on the mascot was made. The board voted 5-4 in favor of keeping the Ravens name. So the motion carried.

Some members of the audience disagreed.

“What are our next actionable steps? Because we cannot sit in limbo. As a community, as students, as staff, we need to move forward,” said Marisa Kiefaber.

Rutland City Schools Superintendent Bill Olsen said the costs can be presented at the next board meeting. But with some pushback, Mia Schultz, the president of the NAACP Rutland Area Chapter, suggested an immediate timeline be created.

Board Clerk Erin Shimp said the board needs to focus on educating the students, which caused a disruption.

Erin Shimp: We can fight and bicker about a name all day long.

Mia Schultz: It’s not just a name.

Erin Shimp: Right, obviously I understand but...

Mia Schultz: Not OK fine, it’s racist.

Erin Shimp: It’s still the curriculum that I think needs to be focused on.

Mia Schultz: It’s racist. You need to focus on your racism.

Shortly after a motion was made to form another committee to create a timeline and costs associated with the mascot change, Shimp walked out of the meeting, saying the board had already done this.

Charlene Seward, a commissioner begged the committee to stop being so angry with one another.

“Can we please just try to get along? Because this is hard to sit here when we have this,” Seward said.

A unanimous vote approved a new open committee for anyone on the board to discuss the Ravens mascot moving forward. Within the original motion, the board voted for the policy committee to look at Robert’s Rules for Small Board, as the attorney recommended.

But some members worry the rules aren’t strict enough.

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