Schiavo’s mascot bill hanging in ‘suspense’ 

Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, during a hearing Wednesday on the bill that would ban the usage of "derogatory" Native American terms as public school mascots. Screenshot.
Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, during a hearing Wednesday on the bill that would ban the usage of "derogatory" Native American terms as public school mascots. Screenshot.

The bill coauthored by Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, and Assemblyman James Ramos, D-Highland, that would ban the usage of “derogatory” Native American terms as mascots or nicknames for K-12 public schools has been placed in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s suspense file. 

That means there likely won’t be any further talk of Assembly Bill 3074, otherwise known as the California Racial Mascots Act, until August when the committee decides which bills to move to the full Senate prior to the end of the legislative session. The final day for fiscal committees to meet and report bills is Aug. 16. 

Bills placed in the suspense file are those determined to cost the state at least $50,000 from the general fund or $150,000 from a special fund. During the first legislative session of this year, 1,009 bills were heard in fiscal committees in both houses of the state Legislature, with 32% being held. The historical average percentage of bills held is 25%, according to longtime lobbyist Chris Micheli. 

After “suspense day,” as it is commonly known, the bills that move on to either the full Senate or Assembly have until Aug. 31 to be passed and moved to the governor’s desk. 

Assembly Bill 3074 expands upon existing legislation that has been in place since 2017 that banned the usage of “Redskins” as a mascot for K-12 public schools, adding “Apaches, Big Reds, Braves, Chiefs, Chieftains, Chippewa, Comanches, Indians, Savages, Squaw, and Tribe” as derogatory terms that would not be allowed. 

The partisan bill unanimously passed out of the Senate Education Committee earlier this month. Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, sits on that committee and voiced support for the bill after hearing the testimony of Julia Estrada, a Hart High School alumnus and a Native American who started the petition in 2020 to begin the process that eventually led to the changing of the school’s mascot from “Indians” to “Hawks.” 

As the bill is currently written, public schools that currently use one of the aforementioned terms as a nickname or mascot would be allowed to continue to use uniforms or other materials bearing that name so long as those were purchased prior to July 1, 2026. For that to be the case, however, schools must: select a new mascot; refrain from purchasing or acquiring new uniforms or other material (yearbooks, newspapers, etc.) using a derogatory term; and refrain from purchasing or constructing marquees, signs or other fixtures using a derogatory term. 

Representatives from the ACLU California Action, the California Teachers Association, the Los Angeles Office of Education and multiple indigenous tribes have come out in support of the bill. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond also supported it. 

According to the Appropriations Committee’s analysis of the bill, it could result in additional one-time Proposition 98 general fund costs. Those costs could be in the tens of thousands to the low hundreds of thousands of dollars “for schools to replace signs, uniforms, and other items that bear derogatory Native American terms.” The exact number of schools requiring those changes is unknown, though Hart would be one of them. 

Schiavo’s office released the following statement to The Signal following the bill’s advancement to the Appropriations Committee: 

“I’m excited that AB 3074 unanimously passed in the Senate Education Committee today, including with a vote by committee member Sen. Scott Wilk,” Schiavo said in the statement. “This legislation, inspired by concerns from our local community, aims to eliminate culturally harmful mascots. At the hearing today, tears were shed from a student who was personally impacted by these deeply problematic mascots. Working closely with tribal and student leaders, we crafted this bill to expand existing laws and prohibit additional derogatory Native American terms, a significant step toward fostering unity, a shared respect and inclusivity within our schools. Ensuring all students feel safe and are able to attend schools where they can thrive will always be a top priority.” 

There is no registered opposition to the bill. 

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