Hart announces community meeting for mascot discussion

The William S. Hart Union High School District office
The William S. Hart Union High School District office

William S. Hart Union High School District staff announced plans to hold a community forum Monday via Zoom regarding the Hart High School mascot.  

In a message distributed to parents Tuesday night, Hart High Principal Jason d’Autremont invited the community to share their thoughts on the question of the “appropriateness” of the Indians’ mascot.  

“Our governing board has determined to consider this issue thoughtfully and respectfully,” d’Autremont said in the letter. “They have committed to providing multiple opportunities for members of our community to share their input and ideas.” 

The forum will follow a particular structure with district officials moderating the discussion. Verbal comments will be limited to 90 seconds per participant, and those who were not able to make a comment during the meeting will be allowed to submit their thoughts via a written statement.  

“We welcome honest feedback, but will not be tolerating personal attacks or offensive language,” the letter to parents said. 

The minutes and comments will be given to the governing board for consideration.  

The meeting is another step in what has been a resurrected controversy since last summer, when the nation watched as millions of demonstrators marched in American streets and in Santa Clarita following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted Tuesday of murdering Floyd.  

On Feb. 9 the board heard from a number of community members regarding the issue of the race-based mascot, with some in support of keeping the Indian mascot while others were opposed. During that same meeting Laury Strauss, the former principal of Hart High School, explained how school officials attempted to tackle the issue in the 1990s. 

On Feb. 17, the board heard from Rudy Ortega, the president of the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, an organization that represents a number of tribes from inside and around the Santa Clarita Valley. Ortega during that meeting said the representation made by the mascot is disingenuous and harmful to students.  

On April 14, the school released the findings of a survey that reported nearly half of respondent students and staff were in favor of keeping the mascot, while 26% of students and 38% of staff were in favor of changing the mascot.  

The meeting is scheduled to be virtually held 6-8 p.m. Monday. Click on the following link in order to ensure your spot in this forum (only registered guests will be accepted into the meeting): https://hartdistrict-org.zoom.us/j/81404162883?pwd=dm0wc2doY3Y0ZXowcks2STdSVWRWQT09. 

To submit a written comment, visit: https://forms.gle/SC2QurVQpwiFtXak8. 

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