Mascot debate heats up with a revised school policy

By Emily Scott
Business and Op-Ed Editor

After several months of silence, the Neshaminy school board proposed a new policy for Neshaminy publications. On Tuesday, April 29 the Policy Committee held a meeting where they presented the revised policy. What once was a single paragraph became a 9-page packet that covered various topics, ranging from social media in educational settings to the mascot debate.

The Policy Committee, including Irene Boyle, Sue Cummings, Mike Morris and Steve Pirritano, recommended the policy be voted upon at the May 6 board meeting, but the vote was postponed after the policy received widespread criticism.

“If my son wants to write something proud about being a R—— football player, the students on that paper, under the law, have no right to tell him to take the word R—— out of it,” Pirritano said.

Among the content of the revised policy was an update to the electronic publication policy of the Playwickian. It included “That comments and those sorts of features shall not be allowed on the website in general or in connection with the Playwickian.”

This revised policy includes the other Neshaminy publications, the yearbook and literary magazine.

Also in this policy is a section dedicated to social media with educational purposes. This new policy includes, “School District employees and officials may not communicate with School District students on Social Media or their private email accounts or texting accounts without notifying the Principal of any such communication.” This would affect not only publications, but other club advisers and coaches as well.

The final section of the policy discusses the topic of the mascot: “…when referring to the School District mascot and when used to express the writer’s viewpoint about the term shall not be construed as a racial or ethnic slur and is not intended by the Board of School Directors as a racial or ethnic slur.”

The school board’s attorney and author of this policy described the reasoning behind this during the meeting. “The use of the R—— is not to be banned unless it is being used in a derogatory and inappropriate sense,” Mike Levin said.

On Tuesday, May 6 the board was going to vote on this policy. If this policy were to pass, the student editors were prepared to take this decision into the court’s hands.

Since the presentation of the policy, the superintendent received a letter from the Playwickian editors’ attorney, as well as several journalism associations. As of Monday, May 6 the Neshaminy school board had come to the decision to postpone the vote on the revised publication policy. An agenda explained the policy would be considered later at the May 21 board meeting.

According to the Bucks County Courier Times, Pirritano said the voting rules state that the board has to vote on policies at public board meetings and not at work sessions, such as the one scheduled for Tuesday.