Schuette: Schools with Indian nicknames can’t lose state aid

Paw Paw Redskins
A supporter of the Redskins mascot in Paw Paw holds up a sign during a school board meeting on Feb. 8, 2017.

LANSING, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — Attorney General Bill Schuette says the Michigan school superintendent doesn’t have authority to cut off tax dollars to districts with American Indian mascots or logos.

paw paw redskins, kalamazoo central
Protesters gather to protest the Paw Paw Redskins before a baseball game against the Kalamazoo Central Maroon Giants. (May 22, 2017)

Schuette’s opinion was sought by state Rep. Tim Kelly, a Republican from Saginaw County.

Critics of schools with Indian mascots say they create a hostile environment and are culturally insensitive. But supporters say they’re signs of respect.

In an opinion dated Monday, Schuette says state law lists specific grounds for a superintendent to stop state aid to a school district, but having an Indian mascot isn’t among them.

In March, Michigan Superintendent Brian Whiston proposed cutting up to 10 percent of a district’s annual payments if he had authority.

In Paw Paw, the school board in February voted to keep the Redskins nickname. Belding announced it was replacing its Redskins mascot in March.