Vt. Supreme Court reverses decision in 'Rebels' mascot case

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A group of South Burlington residents hoping to restore the local high school's controversial mascot -- the "Rebels" -- have lost their case in the Vermont Supreme Court.

In a ruling Friday, the court reversed a trial court decision that would have allowed opponents of the name change to move forward with a lawsuit against the district.

The South Burlington School Board last year voted to drop the Rebels name and change it to the "Wolves" because of the Rebels associations with racist bigotry and intolerance. Opponents filed a lawsuit after the district rejected a petition drive that attempted to put the matter up for a vote. They claimed that the district violated their rights under the Vermont Constitution. A trial court denied the district's attempt to dismiss the lawsuit and the case was appealed to the high court.

In their decision, the justices said, "Residents' desire to inform their school board on matters the school board is vested with deciding does not equate to a right to a district-wide, advisory vote on the issue. The Vermont Constitution creates a representative, not a direct, democracy." They go on to say that "the recourse for voters is not through petition, but election."