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Red­skins mascots have come under fire in recent years, prompting some dis­tricts to con­sider a new mascot. (Photo: Camden Frontier / Courtesy)

Camden Frontier schools’ Red­skins mascot could cost the school five to 10 percent of its state aid. Michigan State Super­in­tendent Brian Whiston is inves­ti­gating whether or not he can fine schools with Native American mascots.

Whiston is cur­rently waiting to hear from Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on  whether he has the authority to do so. If the legal opinion comes back as an affir­mative, Whiston plans to penalize schools for keeping Native American mascots, which some argue are offensive and degrading. 

“I still don’t have the authority to force the change,” Whiston told MLive.com. “But they would know they would face a financial fine for not changing.”

Such fines would not be insignif­icant for Camden Fron­tiers schools, said Camden Frontier Schools Super­in­tendent Scott Riley. Such a cut could slice up to $350,000 from Camden Frontier schools’ budget.  

“Obvi­ously, any time you take away funding it will have a drastic effect on our bottom line,” Riley said. 

Whiston plans to first target schools where com­plaints about mascot have been made. Such schools would receive a written warning that they have 60 days to get rid of the mascots before they are fined.  

Whiston also said he wouldn’t target schools where com­plaints haven’t been filed. This could poten­tially save Camden Frontier from facing the fine. Riley said that Camden Frontier Schools has not heard many com­plaints regarding the mascot, and that a local Native American tribe sent the school a letter which sup­ported the Red­skins mascot. 

Riley said that the school would discuss keeping its mascot if such a fine was passed, but said that such a decision would ulti­mately be left to the board.

Advo­cates have been trying to end the use of Native American mascots for years. 

In 2003, the Michigan State Board of Edu­cation issued a res­o­lution urging schools to elim­inate Native American mascots for their “offensive and…detrimental” effects. 

In 2013, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights sought to end the use of the Red­skins mascot in K-12 schools. The U.S. Department of Edu­cation dis­missed the com­plaint, however, on the grounds of insuf­fi­cient evi­dence of dis­crim­i­nation or offense asso­ciated with the mascots. 

If the Attorney General denies Whiston the authority to penalize schools, the issue could go to the Michigan Leg­is­lature.