WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A judge dismissed a lawsuit last week against West Hartford Public Schools that challenged the district’s decision to discontinue Native American-related names for athletic teams.
The district’s school board voted in 2015 to change the logos for Conard and Hall high schools. The move removed Native American symbols, but kept the team names.
In February of this year, the district voted to discontinue the names “Chieftains” and “Warriors.”
Scott Zweig and Mary McGowan then sued the board of education, district, superintendent and assistant superintendent, alleging that as graduates and parents, they were deprived of their due process rights by the move, according to court documents. The two claimed they wanted their children to “engage in the same traditions, and represent West Hartford as ‘Chieftains’ and ‘Warriors.'”
The lawsuit asked for the votes to be considered null and void, and for an injunction to be put into place blocking the district from removing the names.
The district then asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit “on the ground that the plaintiffs lack standing” and that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the names, according to court documents.
“The defendants argue that the plaintiffs allege only ‘a generalized grievance held by a segment of the community — and not a direct injury to a specific, personal and legal interest,’ and therefore lack both classical aggrievement and taxpayer standing,” according to a memorandum on the motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
“The plaintiffs’ allegations amount to no more than claims of an interest in having a Town board of education that operates lawfully and otherwise properly,” the memorandum reads. “That interest plainly does not distinguish the plaintiffs from the community at large.”
The memorandum notes that the plaintiffs have not shown that the board’s decision will increase their taxes, but simply said it “will cost money.”