Green Bay School Board tackles dyslexia; support to retire Native American mascots

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- State legislation that would create a guidebook of dyslexia resources has spurred the Green Bay Area Public School District to look at how it's addressing the learning disorder.

The state proposal would require the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to create a guidebook for parents, teachers and administrators regarding dyslexia and related conditions.

The bill passed the state Assembly and is now in the Senate.

On Monday, the school board discussed this piece of legislation and what the district is already doing to support students with the disorder.

Board members heard from several parents about the struggles they have had finding support in the school district for their children who struggle with dyslexia.

“They say no child left behind, it’s something that's been a law for a few years now nation wide, and I still see children left behind because they see it as an invisible disability. They don't see that I have dyslexia, they don't feel like I have dyslexia because I can stand here and have a conversation with you,” said Janet Peaches, a parent whose son struggles with dyslexia. She’s also been diagnosed with the disorder.

Some challenges districts face when it comes to the learning disorder is diagnosis and teacher literacy training.

Many asked the board to support the state's legislation to create a guidebook, but district officials say the bill doesn't go far enough.

The board heard about some of the literacy intervention practices that are already being used in the district, but more could be done to help student literacy.

The idea of creating an advisory committee to look at literacy programs is one option that was discussed.

“We want it to be combination of leadership, but also making sure we have all voices at the table and make sure it's representative of teachers and parents and others who have concerns,” said John Magas, Associate Superintendent of Continuous Improvement.

The board also heard from the public on whether to support a resolution brought forward by the Wausau School District to retire Native American mascots.

Vice Chairman of the Oneida Nation, Brandon Stevens, spoke to the board in support of the resolution saying, in part, these mascots are “offensive, hurtful and damaging to our children.”

“Resolutions in opposition of this racial mascot have been passed by all Native American Nations in Wisconsin, by the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council as a body, by the National Congress of American Indians, who first started a media campaign back in 1968 to study the disparaging use of Native American Mascots and logos back in the late 60s,” said Stevens.

There are 31 school districts in Wisconsin which still have a Native American mascot; Mishicot being the closest to the Oneida reservation.

The school board will draft a resolution of support for Wausau’s resolution and vote on Wednesday, Sept. 11.

Acts of support from school districts are due by September 15 and will be sent to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.