Neshaminy High School must cease the use of all offensive Native American imagery, according to a Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission vote. In a statement released Monday, the PHRC announced the school district can still use the Redskins name with conditions.

The controversy began in 2013 when a Native American student alleged harassment “as a result of the pervasive use of the word ‘Redskin’ in the school environment.”

Neshaminy Attorney Craig Ginsburg questions witness Joe Turchi during day four of the Redskins hearings. Photo by Rick Rickman, Jan 2019.

PHRC Chairman Joel Bolstein concluded in the majority opinion “Redskins” is offensive to Native Americans.

“What was acceptable long ago, may no longer be acceptable. This is one such instance. I recognize that had there been testimony from a Native American student explaining how he or she were offended by the term, the Hearing Examiner may have found that the term was discriminatory and the continued use of that term was, in and of itself a violation of the PHRA.”

In the dissenting opinion, Commissioner Michael Hardiman went further. Hardiman said Neshaminy was willfully violating the Pennslyvania Human Relations Act by continuing to use Redskins.

“However, as set forth below, and also after a thorough review of the evidence of record in this case in light of the applicable law, I dissent from the conclusion that because the Commission, as Complainant, ‘…failed to present sufficient evidence that a Native American student or students were harmed by the use of the word Redskin and the associated logos and imagery,…’ [that] “…this portion of the PHRC complaint should be dismissed.”

The following is directly from the PHRC statement released Monday:

“The final order includes, among other requirements, (pg. 54 &55 of the order) that the school cease and desist from the use of any and all logos and imagery in the Neshaminy High School that negatively stereotype Native Americans; and that, at this time, the use of the term Redskins shall be permitted so long as the requisite educational information is provided to District students to ensure that students do not form the idea that it is acceptable to stereotype any group; the District shall also develop an appropriate educational experience consistent with the points outlined in the opinion; within 30 days of the effective date of this order the, that the District shall report to the PHRC on the manner of its compliance with the terms of the order; additionally as long as the District continues to use the name Redskins the district shall report on the actions it has taken to comply with the educational requirements of this order.”