Michigan school district might drop Redskins nickname next week

A supporter of the Redskins name holds a sign at a February 2017 meeting that reaffirmed use of the mascot in Paw Paw. (WOOD TV) (WOOD TV)

PAW PAW, Mich. – The leader of a school district in southwestern Michigan said he will recommend that the Redskins nickname be dropped.

Paw Paw Superintendent Rick Reo said he will take his message to the school board on March 9.

“Our nickname is preventing us from realizing our true potential as a school that welcomes, celebrates, supports and challenges all students,” Reo said in a district newsletter.

Reo joined the district in 2018, first as high school principal and now superintendent. The Paw Paw board voted in 2017 to keep the nickname and mascot.

Reo said he believes the district originally chose Redskins to "celebrate the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans." But times have changed, he said, even if the intent has not.

“If we have students, walking our halls who are uncomfortable with our Redskin nickname, who cannot share in the school pride and spirit we want all students to have, who are divided from classmates because of the very thing that’s supposed to bring students together, then I think we need to question whether holding onto the nickname is the right thing to do,” Reo said.

The American Civil Liberties Union last year asked the U.S. Education Department to investigate a “racially hostile environment” for Native American students at Paw Paw’s high school.