Sunday, April 22 , 2018, 11:06 am | Fair 64º

 
 
 
 

Group Behind Recall Effort Over School Warriors Logo Calls Truce

The Carpinteria Unified School District forms a committee to examine the Native American imagery in an effort to heal the rift.

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Carpinteria High School’s Warriors logo and Native American imagery led to a rift between Carpinteria Unified School District Board member Beverly Grant and the Warrior Spirit Never Dies nonprofit organization. (Mollie Helmuth / Noozhawk photo)

The grassroots organization known in Carpinteria as “Warrior Spirit Never Dies” has announced it will suspend efforts to recall Carpinteria Unified School District Board member Beverly Grant.

The crux of the issue

The group began a whirlwind campaign against Grant after she voted in favor of removing all Native American imagery from the district at a board meeting on April 22. The item passed on a 3-2 vote with Grant, Amrita Salm and Leslie Deardorff in favor. Board members Dr. Alex Pulido and Terry Hickey Banks opposed.

Superintendent Paul Cordeiro clarified at the April 22 meeting that the issue is not over the Warrior name but rather the visual insignia associated with it. After much public comment addressing both sides of the issue, Pulido motioned that the district keep the status quo and focus on reviewing aspects of the logo that negatively affect Native Americans. No one seconded the motion and it failed.

After a second move to vote for further dialogue on the subject failed, Grant suggested that the board make the decision, at which point the motion to remove all Native American logos and imagery passed.

With Warrior Spirit Never Dies taking an actively political approach, the vote has stirred up fervent Warrior loyalty within much of the Carpinteria community. Carpinteria High students organized a walkout to Cordiero’s office on April 23, and dozens of supporters rallied on April 25 against the decision.

Forming an advisory committee

At the May 13 school district board meeting, Cordeiro petitioned the board to suspend its decision and form a committee dedicated to analyzing each image to determine its effect on the Native American community.

“It was pretty clear to me the necessary thing to do was to slow down and evaluate each image,” Cordeiro said. “The community pushback is not because they want to keep everything the way it is. They simply want to have a voice.”

The board finally agreed not to suspend the previous vote but rather to form an advisory committee that would tediously examine all imagery and bring each issue to the board. More details regarding the committee were finalized at the May 27 meeting, including limiting the size to 15 members and that meetings would begin in early September.

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The Carpinteria Unified School District Board has formed an advisory committee to examine Native American imagery in the district. (Mollie Helmuth / Noozhawk photo)

It was determined that in order to properly represent all stakeholders in the issue, the committee would be formed in groups of threes representing Native Americans, students, parents, community members and staff.

The committee was formed July 8 and includes Elias Matisz-Cordero as a student representative. Cordero, 15, is a Carpinteria High School student and was among the group who originally objected to the Native American imagery at a board meeting on March 11. He is part Chumash Indian.

Recalling Grant

Headed by Carpinterian and class of 1980 CHS alum Jeff Moorhouse, WSND began a quick-paced movement in late May to gather the necessary 2,346 signatures for a recall election against Grant. The group kept track of progress on a blog Web site, encouraging supporters to gather signatures outside of Vons grocery store or the post office.

“We went after Beverly (Grant) because her term isn’t up for two more years,” Moorhouse said. “Amrita (Salm) is up for re-election in November, so we weren’t allowed to recall her, and Leslie (Deardorff) has a unique situation in that the person in her seat must live in a certain area (Summerland).”

The group delivered the necessary signatures to the Santa Barbara County Elections Office for validation on June 27. It had 2,576 signatures and needed 2,346 for the recall election. Moorhouse says the group collected 10 percent extra to account for possible unregistered voters.

Down to the wire

Warrior Spirit Never Dies aimed to consolidate the recall election into the Nov. 4 general election, meaning it was in a time crunch to get signatures by the week of June 23.

The school district’s Board of Trustees and the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors were scheduled for only one meeting during July, and the results needed to be counted by July 2 to make it onto the agendas. The group needed 2,346.

The result: The group had only 2,257 valid, registered voters who submitted signatures; 155 were deemed not registered to vote in the district, and the remaining had problems with addresses, Moorhouse said. The organization was short 89 signatures.

Future plans

Moorhouse says the group now will focus on supporting candidates in the general election, representing the community and participating in committees to oversee board policy. 

“I always look toward the next goal,” Cordeiro said. “Next week I’m going to get in touch with new committee members to get acquainted.”

The committee is still set to begin meeting at the beginning of September.

The Brokenrope Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes Native American culture, will honor Matisz-Cordero at a powwow July 18-20 at Moorpark College. Co-founder Carol Anderson says the group is proud of the student’s courage to speak his mind to the school district.

Noozhawk intern Mollie Helmuth can be reached [email protected]

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