- The Washington Times - Friday, September 7, 2001

An Indian activist called "sore losers" those Poolesville, Md. residents who plan to rally tonight against the Montgomery County Board of Education's decision to force their high school to stop using the nickname "Indians."
"I think what's happening now sort of has the appearance of sour grapes," said Richard Regan, a member of the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs. "You had your day in the sun and you lost. I don't think this issue should be revisited."
Community members disagree. A group called the Citizens for Poolesville Democracy has scheduled a protest rally on the grounds of Poolesville High School an hour before the football team takes the field in what is expected to be its last season as the Indians.
Town Commissioner Jerry Klobukowski, scheduled to speak at the event, said the community is still angry over the school board's decision last month to set aside a 493-321 vote of Poolesville's parents and students taken in May that favored retaining the nickname.
County school board members said they considered the vote in their decision but were not bound by it.
"Pride runs deep in this community," Mr. Klobukowski said. "It was our decision. It was abrogated."
He said community members plan to appeal the decision before taking legal action.
"Would the [town] commissioners support it? I think so," Mr. Klobukowski said.
Meanwhile, Linda M. Plummer, president of the Montgomery County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, confirmed for The Washington Times yesterday that she has contacted county schools Superintendent Jerry D. Weast about an incident at Poolesville High School last week that occurred during a discussion of the team's name.
Community Superintendent Don Kress suspended a teacher from advising the school's cheerleaders after comparing "Indians" to a racial epithet in front of several students at an athletic practice, an investigation by county NAACP advocate Connie Bishop determined.
Mrs. Bishop said yesterday that Mr. Kress told her the incident was resolved after a meeting between the teacher, the students, the students' parents and Poolesville Principal Mark Levine. She said the teacher apologized and was reinstated Wednesday.
Ms. Plummer said that the school did not notify the NAACP parent council representative of the incident and that she opposes reinstating the teacher. She said she is awaiting a response from Mr. Weast.
Mrs. Bishop expressed "100 percent" support for Mr. Regan after the two discussed the issue of Indian-inspired team names during her investigation.
The Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, which urged the school board to intervene at Poolesville, has fought since February to strip sports teams of Indian-inspired team names. It took its case to the state Board of Education and several other local school boards, as well as to a Little League group in Montgomery County.
Last month, Gov. Parris N. Glendening said the commission exceeded its authority when it called for a boycott against sponsors of the Germantown Athletic Club for using the team names "Braves" and "Indians."
At an Aug. 28 meeting, the school board decided by a 7-1 vote that the team name "Indians" is inconsistent with its policy on human rights and authorized about $80,000 to help the school pay for name changes on its gymnasium, uniforms and letterhead. The school has one year to comply.
Mr. Klobukowski said he invited County Council members Michael Subin, a Democrat, and Nancy Dacek, a Republican, to attend tonight's rally.
"Mike won't be attending," Mr. Subin's spokesman, Lou D'Ovidio, said. "He supports the decision of the superintendent and the school board."
Peggy Erickson, spokeswoman for Mrs. Dacek, said to her knowledge Mrs. Dacek hasn't received any invitation.
In the coming weeks, the Indian commission's campaign against "offensive" team names will shift to Harford County, where school officials say Havre de Grace High School will make a community decision on whether to continue to use the name "Warriors" for its teams.


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