BUDA, Texas — During a meeting Thursday afternoon, the Hays CISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved retiring Hays High School's Rebel mascot because of its ties to the Confederacy.
The school will continue to use the mascot until a new mascot is selected and the district creates a new logo and brand package.
"After that, the school can begin ordering uniforms, signage, and equipment with the new logo. It’s not likely that a new mascot would be ready to launch until the spring semester at the very earliest. And, since changing mascots mid-year and mid-season for competitive teams and clubs may be too disruptive, it is possible that 'the Rebels' won’t be fully retired until the end of the 2020-2021 school year," the district said in a statement.
Students will not be required to wear uniforms with the old mascot and are allowed to cover any references to Rebels on their uniforms.
Hays CISD sent 2,325 survey invitations to students who will be in the ninth through 12th grades during the 2020-2021 school year, asking them to gauge their comfort level with the mascot. There were 1,152 responses.
Of those, nearly 60% showed little to no comfort with the current mascot. About one in four students who responded said they were "very uncomfortable" with it.
The district also sent 265 survey invitations to Hays High School teachers and staff, asking them the same question as the students. There were 146 responses.
Of those, more than 70% of teachers and staff members showed little to no comfort with the mascot. Nearly a third of those who responded said they were very uncomfortable with it.
An online community petition received more than 1,400 signatures in favor of a mascot change. Students also formed a committee to change the mascot and started their own petition that has received more than 500 signatures, according to the district.
Hays High School stopped using the confederate flag as an official signal in 2000 and, in 2012, Hays CISD banned the flag's display on any district property. In 2015, the district removed "Dixie" as the Hays High School fight song.
"Hays CISD is a much different community than it once was, and so is the world. We all grow and learn. As a school district, we are, in fact, in the business of growing and learning," the district said. "The administration believes that it is time to change the mascot and open a new chapter at Hays High School – one that, moving forward, can be embraced and celebrated by all."
Originally, the district said that should the board vote to change the mascot, trustees would need a recommendation on a new mascot to consider at that point. A survey was sent to students, asking them what they would like to see as their new mascot, should the board vote to change it.
However, the district said on July 13 that the new mascot selection campaign was "interrupted by unexpected circumstances that affected the process."
"The administration does not believe it was able to obtain enough student response during this process to be confident that the responses fully represent what students would like to see as a new mascot. Additionally, some students may have been reluctant to select a new mascot in hopes that the board will not change the mascot," the district said. "A process to select a new mascot, if necessary, would be more inclusive following a final decision by the board whether to make a change."
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