Lawmakers stuck on details over bill to allow state to dictate ‘school branding’

On Wednesday, members of the House Education Committee continued discussion of S.139, a measure that would give the state control over local school mascots and associated branding.

While the bill gives the state power to dictate whether branding is permissible, one issue that came up during the committee meeting was what happens when complaints arise against a school

“The school board doesn’t handle it, it goes to the Agency of Education,” Rep. Kate Webb, D-Shelburne, and chair of the committee, said. “The Agency of Education says that you are not following the policy, what happens? That remains an open question.”

Elizabeth St. James, representing the Office of Legislative Counsel, said AOE and the secretary of education would be setting the “model policy” for all schools to follow.

“This language as passed by the Senate is silent to any enforcement mechanisms or penalties for non-compliance with a policy,” she said. “School districts are required to adopt a model policy at least as comprehensive as the model policy.”

Rep. John Arrison, D-Weathersfield, asked if a dispute regarding branding could ultimately end up in court. St. James replied that courts are always an option.

“Yes, whether that’s going to be effective or go anywhere, it depends on the facts of the case,” she said.

Arrison said he’s disappointed in the Green Mountain Unified School in Chester for continuing to use symbols and references related to Native Americans.

“They are way behind the curve on this,” he said. “They still have the Chieftain emblem in their gymnasium, they still use the word Chieftain.”

Many community members, including school board members, have not been able to agree about the Indian head  logo and use of “Chieftains” for sports teams.

As introduced, S.139 says the bill “proposes to prohibit a public school from having or adopting a name, symbol, or image that depicts or refers to a racial or ethnic group, individual, custom, or tradition and that is used as a mascot, nickname, logo, letterhead, or team name of the school.”

Rep. Terri Lynn Williams, R-Granby, expressed her concerns about the bill.

“My biggest hesitation to support this is you can’t list everything that people are going to be at issue with,” she said.

James responded that this bill would be like a “living document” that would be presumably modified over time.

Williams asked what happens if no one in a community complains about a mascot. James again reiterated that the bill does not force any analysis by the Agency of Education into whether a school or a school district is in compliance.

If the measure is not passed, local communities would maintain their own control over their own branding decisions.

Williams noted the shift from local control to state control

“So basically this takes it out of the hands of the school board,” she said.

The committee ended its discussion without offering a clear view of the bill’s fate for this session.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Public domain

7 thoughts on “Lawmakers stuck on details over bill to allow state to dictate ‘school branding’

  1. In the post-Act 60 world with statewide taxation and funding, this next proposal for micromanagement demands that we treat all teachers and staff as STATE EMPLOYEES. You can’t have it both ways.

  2. Everyone with their comes on here is spot one. Our so-called legislation is made up of 98% of out-of-staters who moved here not for Vermont values but for making Vt into the state they left.
    I want to know how in the world did they got elected?? I sure didn’t vote for the CROOKS…
    You know they are crooks, remember David Zuckerman who “stole” from Vt taxpayers and laughed about it. all 98% of them are crooks. With all the money that comes to Vermont, they make sure their friends and pet projects come first.
    These greedy idiots have no right to change our values and history and make Vermont into a laughing stock state.
    We have a RINO governor, we have commie senators… Vermonters need to get back to our roots, to stand up to this so-called “WOKE” BS…
    Our farms are disappearing, our children are being brainwashed, they are being taught that they aren’t boys or girls, you don’t call your parents ‘MOM or DAD” They want to teach little kids about SEX, They want to take away your parenteral rights. The liberals are chipping away at our rights. They are already chipping away at Vermont’s history.

  3. Is there anything at all left that the government of Vermont doesn’t want to control?
    Do you all have state socks and underwear that have been issued to you to wear daily?
    I mean where does it end?

  4. “a measure that would give the state control over local school mascots and associated branding…” “Local…” Has the meaning of this word morphed into “Stare?” Have these Fascists discussed state control over naming children? Now government is insisting people have the right to identify themselves as virtually anything. The Progressives allowed Lizzy Warren to identify as an Indian. The insist on the rights of physical males to compete with women. And they won’t let a school determine how it seeks to determine its own identity? What, anyhow, is wrong with honoring our native Indians by naming their school’s athletic teams for them? There are things the state government does not have to do. A lot of things.

  5. The very last thing Vermonters should want is another area over which the dysfunctional state legislature has control. This proposed legislation is totally BS…

    • Mark –
      Your comment sums up the position of traditional Vermonters (unfortunately a declining percentage of our population). What happened to our tradition of live and let live? That cornerstone of Vermont society pretty much defines tolerance but it is under attack by our “woke” legislature in their rabid assault in the name of inclusion or equity or whatever they can come up with tomorrow.

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