The reorganizational meeting of the Rutland City School Board descended into shouting Tuesday after one of the board’s new members made a motion to immediately restore the Raider nickname and arrowhead logo.

Board member Hurley Cavacas became chairman at the top of the meeting, ousting incumbent Alison Notte by a 6-5 vote. Erin Shimp bested Ann Dages for secretary by a similar margin — Assistant Superintendent Robert Bliss said he was missing one vote but Shimp had the six she needed without it. The board heard presentations on various anti-discrimination efforts and other activities before Cavacas recognized Board Member Stephanie Stoodley, who made the motion that touched off the shouting.

Stoodley said a vote to adopt the new “Ravens” team name had not been done under proper parliamentary procedure, that the Ravens name was being “pre-emptively used” and that evidence presented regarding the name change was “skewed.”

“The community at large has spoken and wishes for the Raider name and arrowhead logo to be restored,” she said, moving to do so effective that night and to have all materials related to the change made available to the board for review.

The board narrowly voted to abandon the Raider name and arrowhead logo — which were replacements for the “Red Raiders” team name and Indigenous American tribal chief logo the school used previously — in response to concerns from students and alumni that they were culturally insensitive. The move triggered a fierce backlash, and Stoodley was part of a slate of candidates opposed to the change, who successfully ran for School Board seats in March.

“I’m a little concerned,” board member Kevin Kiefaber said. “If the process that was done before was not thorough enough, then voting on this tonight would be even worse than what we did last time. ... If we’re going to consider it, I think we should take more time and do it right.”

Cavacas said he took this as a temporary restoration of the name while the process was examined.

“I think five of us were blindsided by a very well-orchestrated movement last March,” Cavacas said.

Notte raised a point of order, saying the subject was not on the agenda as an action item, and a two-thirds vote of the board was needed to act on the meeting that night. Tempers began to flare from there and board members began to talk over one another, with Cavacas saying that process was not followed at previous meetings and Notte saying Cavacas should call a recess and consult Robert’s Rules of Order.

“Miss Notte, I will certainly do it, and I will treat you much better than you treated me,” Cavacas said.

Discussion when the board returned from recess was full of raised voices and members talking over each other, primarily Notte on one side and Cavacas and Shimp on the other as proper procedure was argued.

“The law’s the law, honey,” Shimp said at one point to Notte after holding up a copy of Robert’s Rules and saying she could not find the rules Notte referenced.

At another point, Cavacas talked over Notte while promising he would not mute her as she did to him at a previous meeting, an accusation she denied.

Eventually, Cavacas ruled that he would put off the vote on Stoodley’s motion until the next meeting, at which it would be a warned action item, and he intended to invalidate the vote adopting the “Ravens” team name after consulting with school district attorney William Meub.

After that, the board went into executive session, came out and voted to authorize the superintendent to proceed with negotiations discussed in the session and then adjourned.

The next board meeting is scheduled for May 11.

gordon.dritschilo

@rutlandherald.com

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City Reporter

Gordon has been a reporter for the Rutland Herald for nearly 20 years. A Castleton State College graduate, he's covered beats from the West county to the city, cops and courts and everything in between.

(12) comments

gvt

A few points. Mr. Cavacas cannot mute Ms. Notte, as that is not a privilege afforded him in the set up of Zoom. Likewise, Ms. Notte, was unable, when she was board chair, to mute him. As for "5 of is being blindsided", there were 3 meetings on the subject, and the discussion of the mascot was on the agenda when the motion was made. The motion was made and it passed 6-4, with Ms. Notte, as the then chair, abstaining. The chair only votes to break a tie. Thee is quite a bit of posturing going on here. If Mr. Cavacas wishes to restore the Raider name, he should not hide behind a bogus assertion, he should show what he stands for.

Micfran

One can't help but wonder why the people weren't asked to weigh in by vote. That certainly would have circumvented this mess.

CFQ914

I'm so glad I'm not a city resident.

stevecurrie46

It’s so sad - and disturbing from a taxpayer’s perspective - that our Board of Education has devolved into a Board of Gamesmanship. While the team names and logos are important, it is disturbing that some of the newer board members apparently have this issue as their campaign-based only issue. Political gamesmanship and maneuvering ought not to play the key role on any board of education. This board has skewed its focus and lost its way.

Chahn

I agree, and that why the city voted out the first 2 in March. 2 more will go next march, and 3 including Mrs. notte the following March. I issue should have never been brought up from the start. Now it will be fixed within the month.

Alyssa

Disgusting and sad how small some of these folks are - that a racist mascot is that important.

Calling someone "honey" is misogeny at it's finest. I'm embarrassed to have grown up in this community.

whats new

All the way with MSJ!!!!!!

Just sayin'

This is really sad- and it continues to be the folks without standing who continue to push the narrative that the mascot is not racist or pejorative. We have been told, point blank, that it is. We want the School Board to model civility and leadership for our community and, especially, for our students regarding how we should treat each other and respect ALL opinions. This new group is modeling the opposite of what we would expect of our elected leaders. And I am afraid we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg with a few of these members. PLEASE- for the sake of the students and for those who feel the "Raider" name is offensive- LET IT GO.

pooh444

I can't help but wonder why the previous school board members hurried this through and refused to let the taxpayers and citizens of Rutland vote on this also who will pay for all the changes

TMG63VT

I'm proud to be a Rutlander! Last night's Schoolboards meeting was our Constitutional Republic in action. I was surprised by the lack of knowledge of Parliamentarian procedure, and that the SB attorney is not at these meetings.

Bottomline, bring back the RAIDERr name and mascot. The former SB president wouldn't allow a public vote last Fall, and she force fed this change because of her socialist political agenda. On March 2, the people of Rutland spoke LOUDLY, I proudly voted loudly for Seward, O'Connor & Stoodley to help restore the RAIDER name and logo. Next year the same will happen, and the following years to remove these social justice people!

These Commissioners need to restore the RAIDER name and put the drama to sleep and start doing programs that take our students to the next level and preparing all of them for life.

To the Leftist on the Board, it's not only about social justice and fixing what you think is "wrong." Our history is rich, we learn from it so we don't repeat it. You do not have to destroy everything that you do not agree with. This is America, the greatest nation on earth. Thank you,

Just sayin'

The previous commenter, regardless of whether the name is hurtful or offensive- states- "Bottom line, bring back the RAIDER name and mascot". That is NOT the bottom line- not even close. This kind of language is harmful, perpetuates negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples, and contributes to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples. Maybe we simply have not done a good enough job of demonstrating how hurtful this kind of language can be. Regardless, I just can't come to any rational understanding why any human being could be so adamantly convinced to perpetuate a stereotype that he or she knows is harmful. Explain yourselves.

NSobotka

[thumbdown] All of that foolish rhetoric over a mascot and name by WHITE people. It's immature, self-serving and, actually, speaks volumes as to the ignorance of these newly elected school board members. And their followers who've commented here . Ignorance and racism is a choice.

I do agree that Rutland voters should've been allowed to weigh in on this...doubtful the Raider name and mascot would've been kept. And to be honest shouldn't the STUDENTS be the ones to have a say? It shouldn't be decided by those who've long graduated and ran for the school board SOLELY for this purpose.

But on a side note...being called "honey" is condescending and sexist...amazing how some behavior in Rutland hasn't changed over the years. And, evidently, being respectful and courteous isn't a requirement to being elected to the school board.

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