DICKINSON, N.D. — Dickinson School Board President Brent Seaks announced Monday, Feb. 10, that Dickinson Public Schools "will take no further action regarding the mascot at this time."
He said the board needs to focus on solving other issues facing the district, such as overcapacity.
"It's certainly controversial," he said. "It's disheartening to know that a third of the population is not in support of our mascot and two-thirds are. Ideally, you'd have a mascot that 100% or 99.9% do (support), and you don't have that. There's no quick fix to that. There's no easy answers. There's no easy answers what to do with the capacity and coming up with a solution that the community will support, but that's where the time and energy has to be."
School board member David Wilkie, who had been receptive to changing the mascot, said he respects the board's decision and agrees with it based on community feedback.
Kevin Hoherz, principal of Dickinson High School, said the mascot comes down to community pride.
"The surveys showed there was a good support for the mascot, so I'm happy," he said. "I understand the little people. They feel strongly about it. They presented themselves very well, and we understand their position, but the mascot is pride. It's not a derogatory term. The Mighty Midgets — the community takes it as a respectful mascot."
In December, members of Little People of America spoke at a Dickinson School Board meeting to explain why they believe the high school's mascot, the Midgets, is offensive to little people. They asked the board to again consider changing the mascot, arguing that the term "midget" is derogatory.
Opponents of changing the mascot argued that to do so would be too politically correct and that the mascot is dear to many in the community.
The school district surveyed community members, students, faculty and staff in January, and a majority of the respondents were not in favor of changing the mascot.
The Dickinson community has battled over the mascot before. In 1996, the school board voted to change the mascot, and at least three board members were recalled as a result. The issue resurfaced in 2010 when the Little People of America spoke to then-school board president Dean Rummel, who put it on the board's agenda. That school board opted to avoid the controversy.