Portland Public Schools’ Education Board unanimously voted Tuesday night to ditch Franklin High School’s controversial mascot, The Quakers.
The board said it will spend a year choosing the new name and will outline the selection process at another meeting held on May 22.
The decision came after a years-long spat over the mascot name and a formal complaint filed with the district last fall.
The complaint reads in part, "'Quakers' is the name of an organized religion and, as such, is inappropriate, offensive, and unconstitutional."
The board, after receiving the complaint, said it decided to review all its district naming policies and make changes.
One of which was a new rule that “names shall not be a person, location or character whose primary identification is of a religious nature or be a name of a religious group or members.”
The board then found the nickname “Quakers” was in violation of the new policy.
Franklin High parent Mia Pisano spoke before the board to thank them. She told FOX 12 she’s been waiting for this day for six years.
Pisano said she’s grateful for the board and the other parents and community members who worked with her to convince the board to retire the mascot.
“It really does matter, words and names and prioritizing values really matters,” Pisano said. “And it’s brought me back into a much more active relationship with being a Quaker.”
FOX12 visited Franklin High to ask students how they felt about a new mascot.
Many students said they don’t identify with “Quakers” as a mascot. It was also evident on campus grounds that the mascot wasn’t used much as a school symbol.
Instead, the letter “F” for Franklin is emblazoned on the school football field, school sweatshirts and other pride items. “Quakers” is written on the football field’s scoreboard.
Freshman Carmen Fiarito said she participates in Track and Field and basketball.
“Whenever we do chants or celebrate our team, doing anything good, we usually just call ourselves ‘Franklin like Go Franklin!’”
An assistant principal and another teacher told FOX 12 they shifted away from branding the school as “Quakers” several years ago.
Several students also said they don’t know much about who Quakers are or the religion. Several seemed to think Benjamin Franklin, who the school is named after, was a Quaker. Franklin was not a Quaker.
FOX 12 also spoke to Kelly McCurdy, who put three children through Franklin High. He said he believes the district is making a mistake and erasing tradition.
"I think it’s silly, personally,” McCurdy said. “It’s not racially insensitive.”
He added, “I think there are plenty of things that need attending to, and the Franklin mascot isn’t one of them.”
The last time Portland Public Schools changed a school name was nearly 30 years ago, when Cleveland High switched from the “Indians” to the “Warriors.”
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