Brevard Public School Board Votes 3-2 to Explore Policy on Name Change for Edgewood Jr./Sr. High Mascot

By  //  September 24, 2020

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Mascot Name change would be first-ever for a Brevard county school

After taking input from parents and students, Edgewood Jr./Sr. High School in Merritt Island has begun the process to change its mascot from the Indians to a more culturally acceptable mascot. Edgewood is a highly-rated school of choice, located at 180 East Merritt Avenue in Merritt Island, and includes grades seven through 12.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – After taking input from parents and students, Edgewood Jr./Sr. High School in Merritt Island has begun the process to change its mascot from the Indians to a more culturally acceptable mascot.

Edgewood is a highly-rated school of choice, located at 180 East Merritt Avenue in Merritt Island, and includes grades seven through 12.

Brevard Public School Board members recently debated over who had the ultimate rulemaking authority to approve or disapprove the proposed change.

Citing the lack of an existing policy on mascot-renaming, Brevard Public School Board Vice Chairman Matt Susin cited Florida Statute which gives the school board the decision-making authority over the move.

He went on to say that the process, which was never brought to the board, should be stopped immediately until a proper policy is in place.

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“I do not believe a school on its own should be allowed to change a mascot without the final decision coming to the school board who is accountable to the voters,” said Susin.

“Never has a school in Brevard changed their mascot. There is no procedure or precedent to allow this to move forward.”

Brevard Public School Board members Cheryl McDougall and Kayte Campbell led the opposing argument, saying there has been a long practice of allowing a new school to name their mascot without board approval.

“I think the community is ready to speak,” Campbell said.

“I would rather at least allow them to walk through this process until we know what we’re looking at is very different from this.”

BREVARD PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD MEMBERS: Front Row: Tina Descovich (District 3), Mark Mullins (BPS Superintendent), and Misty Belford (District 1). Back Row: Katye Campbell (District 5), Matt Susin (District 4) and Cheryl McDougall (District 2). (BPS image)

McDougall, whose district includes Edgewood, said the process to rename the mascot was very sound as the process allowed at least two opportunities for the community to give input, and that the process was very lengthy, ultimately taking almost a year to complete.

She also said that there was a business that had come forward to pay to repaint the gym floor.

Weighing in during the discussion, and ultimately siding with Susin, Brevard Public Schools Board member Tina Descovich also said that she had problems with the meeting formats where public speakers would be limited.

Susin continued to drive the debate, which went back and forth, even bringing in the general counsel for comment.

“We are allowing a group of students and parents who at most have been there for four years to arbitrarily change a tradition that has been in place for over 60 years,” said Adrienne Schmadeke, a parent of a student that attends Edgewood.

“A decision with those variables and that magnitude should be placed with the school board who is accountable to the voters.”

Adrienne said that the school is a choice school with more than half of its students not living in the Merritt Island community and that Edgewood should reconsider because of the cost to change the gym floor and marque in front of the school during a budget crisis.

Ultimately the decision to allow the renaming to continue without a policy was successful by 3-2 vote with Board members Campbell, Belford, and McDougall in favor, with Descovich and Susin voting against.

The next SAC meeting to give public input is October 15 at 5 p.m. at Edgewood Jr./Sr. High School. In order to speak at the meeting, you are required to sign up by Oct. 14. To share your public comments at the next SAC meeting on October 15, either by speaking live from a remote on-campus location or by submitting a written statement, CLICK HERE.

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