Update from Superintendent Reo: Facts Regarding the Process

The Facts Regarding the PPPS Nickname Adoption Process 

Paw Paw Schools announced its top three considerations for nicknames on Friday, May 22, inviting the public to submit image, logo, and mascot ideas before the final round of voting. 

The process leading to the adoption of a new nickname and imagery is being led by the Paw Paw Nickname Task Force consisting of 27 students in grades 5 through 11. This group of students has devoted a huge amount of time to working on this project over the past two months. Paw Paw’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Corey Harbaugh, is the Paw Paw staff member assigned to supervising the Task Force. 

When the Task Force members began meeting in March, one of the first things they agreed upon is that they did not want to adopt a new nickname and logo that would once again bring negative attention to Paw Paw and our school because of some type of associated controversy. As one student stated (paraphrased) “I just want to go out, have fun, compete in our games and cheer on our teams without worrying about protesters or arguments about our mascot.” 

With this in mind, the Task Force developed and agreed upon the following essential criteria in order to assure that our chosen nickname and imagery is Respectful and Serious: 

1. Inclusive 

2. Non-Controversial 

3. Prideful (Instills Pride) 

4. Unique to Paw Paw 

5. Showcases School Spirit 

Friday’s announcement marks one of the final steps in the adoption of a new nickname and imagery for Paw Paw Schools following the retirement of the current Redskins name and imagery at the end of this school year. Community members’ responses to Friday’s announcement have been mixed, ranging from excitement surrounding the opportunity to design and submit images for consideration, to vocal disappointment and claims that the process is not being carried out as promised. There have been accusations of dishonesty and lack of transparency. Some have made claims such as “your vote doesn’t count”. 

In response to these accusations, I asked Mr. Harbaugh to provide me with a summary of the voting process and Task Force’s work up to this point. And now I am going to share this summary publicly so that everyone who so chooses can base their opinions and judgments on facts rather than assumptions and rumors (LINK BELOW). 

I want to be clear that I am releasing this memo with much hesitation because I have seen and experienced the ugliness in the behaviors of some of those who disagree on the topic of the school nickname. I am trusting that any attempts to attack or criticize the students who were part of this process will be met with strong opposition and condemnation from the vast majority of our community members. Those who feel they need to complain and criticize can certainly continue to focus their attacks on me, Rick Reo, Superintendent of Schools. Ultimately it is my responsibility to sign off on this process, and I endorse how this process has been handled. It has not been perfect, but I don’t know that perfect was possible. 

My hope is that those who truly want to understand the process that has been used for narrowing the nickname selections, and why this process has been used, will see that there has been transparency and no attempts to hide things from the broader community. On the contrary, all information was provided on each ballot for those who chose to read it. Some may not agree with the process or like the result, but there was transparency. 

And, I am certain that many will not agree with the reasons for certain names being removed from the list of options. That’s understandable, because there’s undoubtedly some room for honest disagreement when it comes to deciding what is respectful and serious when looking at a nickname. But it’s important to keep in mind that the discussions that led to the removal of names were held by the Task Force with the best of intentions. And true to their cause, the members tried to remain focused on applying the nickname/imagery criteria they established at the beginning of the process. These kids made some very tough decisions, and at one point they hit a standstill and couldn’t decide, but the criteria they agreed upon served as the guide to allow the Task Force to progress. 

5/22/2020 MEMO FROM COREY HARBAUGH RE: NICKNAME SELECTION PROCESS

Thank you.

Sincerely, 

Rick Reo, Superintendent



Sincerely, 

Rick Reo Superintendent