Arrogance, Deceit and Incompetence
An organized movement in Melrose is asking registered Melrose voters to sign a petition on the Red Raider nickname. If enough signatures are gathered by May 1, the entire community would have the opportunity to vote on whether the Red Raider name should be retired and replaced by Red Hawks. Red Hawks was chosen by the 7 member school committee.
The City of Melrose Charter allows this action when a group of residents believes a decision-making process is so flawed by their government that they wish to recall the vote. The issue would then be decided at the November polls in a binding referendum.
Based on Principal Jason Merrill's August 2, 2021 letter, our community was led to believe that he felt it was time "For Melrose High School to move away from the Red Raider mascot." The letter further stated that this decision was his alone and not based on other people's thinking or agendas.
We now know, based on e-mails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) records request, that fully 2 months prior to Principal Merrill's letter, the Superintendent of Schools was actively involved with the Chairperson of the School Committee in a clandestine effort to change the Red Raider name. We also know why they did it.
In an effort to prevent further discussion and dissemination of the outrageous reason "why" they did it, the attorneys for the city of Melrose issued a cease and desist order in an attempt to prevent us from sharing information that THEY provided to us.
As outrageous as this behavior is, the choice of Red Hawk as the new name is more outrageous. School Committee member Margaret Driscoll, in a passionate plea to choose the nickname "Red & White", advised her fellow school committee members that Red Hawk is the name of a Native American chief.
In 2022, The Colorado Council of Indian Affairs voted that the Red Hawk name did not comply with the Colorado Senate Bill 21-116 due to its association with Native American Culture.
How did the Mascot Steering Committee, led by the Principal of the High School and members of the School Committee, not identify this issue before recommending the name Red Hawk?
Why did the School Committee simply ignore fellow School Committee member Margaret Driscoll's message that Red Hawk has a very strong association with Native American culture?
In summary, The Melrose School Committee:
1 – Misled the public and actively participated with the Superintendent in a clandestine effort to change the Red Raider name.
2 – Arrogantly ignored the warnings of fellow School Committee member Margaret Driscoll regarding the Red Hawk name and its association with Native American Culture.
3 – Voted in a school nickname with a direct connection to a Native American chief and removed the Red Raider name, which was periodically associated with Native American caricatures and imagery but originally a simple description of the school colors and play of athletes on the field.
If there was ever a decision-making process this charter measure is designed for, this is it. Please join us in allowing a fair vote for the registered voters of Melrose and, in the process, send a message to the Melrose School Committee that we won't tolerate deceit or incompetence.
If you are interested in signing the petition, please stop by our signature drive tomorrow, April 23 from 1:00PM – 4:00PM at 165 Tremont Street (all the way in the back - behind the Fred Green Field.)
If you're interested in gathering signatures on your street or neighborhood, e-mail us at email@example.com, and we can provide you copies of the petition.
Look for us over the next few weeks as we gather signatures throughout the city, supporting the people's right to vote. Let the people decide.