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'Orientals' nickname is on the way out

By John Published: April 27, 2010

John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

East High School probably will have a new name for its sports teams when its newly renovated building opens next fall leaving behind the ''the Orientals'' nickname.

Superintendent David James informed the Akron School Board Monday that he will apply the district's anti-discrimination policy specifically to team names, mascots and logos an administrative change that doesn't require board approval.

''It's fairly safe to assume that we're going to have a process where they look at an alternate name,'' James said.

An Akron Beacon Journal column by Bob Dyer last month sparked debate about East High School's nickname, ''the Orientals,'' an antiquated reference to people of Asian descent that is now considered offensive.

The board approves broad policies, but it is up to the superintendent to decide specific enforcement guidelines.

The guidelines for the non-discrimination policy previously didn't address team names and mascots.

So James added a paragraph that prohibits the use of any name or symbol that ''stereotypes'' groups based on sex, race, ancestry or national origin or that create or could potentially create a racially hostile or discriminatory school environment.

The district has begun soliciting suggestions for a new name on its Facebook page.

University of Akron law professor Brant Lee has introduced a Facebook page called ''The Ad Hoc Committee to Encourage East High to Become 'the Dragons.' ''

In other business, the board fired a 47-year-old kindergarten teacher who was tutoring at Leggett Elementary School for failing to comply with a ''last-chance agreement'' to resolve a violation of the district's alcohol- and/or drug-abuse policy through rehabilitation.

Employees that enter ''last-chance agreements'' instead of getting fired are subject to random testing and may be fired if they fail those tests, James said.

The teacher, Kelleen Fischer, did not attend the board's closed-door session on Monday to contest the recommendation. She had been with the district since 1985.

John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792 or Read the education blog at



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