Fairfield student disciplined after threats for comments about ‘Indians’ mascot

A classmate of a senior at Fairfield High School has been disciplined, say school officials, in the wake of claims by a female student that she was the target of threats after making an online post and survey asking for suggestions on other school district mascots besides the "Indians." The student, who said she is Native American, said she was shocked by the responses online. The Indian mascot image is common in Fairfield Schools. Pictured is the main office of the Fairfield Freshman School. (Photo By Michael D. Clark\Journal-News)
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A classmate of a senior at Fairfield High School has been disciplined, say school officials, in the wake of claims by a female student that she was the target of threats after making an online post and survey asking for suggestions on other school district mascots besides the "Indians." The student, who said she is Native American, said she was shocked by the responses online. The Indian mascot image is common in Fairfield Schools. Pictured is the main office of the Fairfield Freshman School. (Photo By Michael D. Clark\Journal-News)

The investigation into a Fairfield High School student’s allegations of being threatened and racially taunted online after advocating against the district’s “Indians” mascot has shifted from a police matter to a school matter, said a local police chief.

And Fairfield school officials told the Journal-News Wednesday a student has been disciplined as a result.

“We have spoken to the young lady and her mother. They are satisfied with the school handling the incident,” said Fairfield Twp. Police Chief Robert Chabali.

“The review of the incident will now be conducted by the school.”

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Fairfield Schools spokeswoman Gina Gentry-Fletcher said the district’s investigation is done and “the student (suspect) has been disciplined accordingly,” but declined to reveal any further information citing student privacy.

Last week, both Fairfield Twp. police and Fairfield school officials said they were investigating allegations made by the girl, who told the Journal-News’ media partner WCPO-TV she is Native American.

“I expected a negative response, but I did not expect, like, the threats that I’m getting,” said Joelle Reid. “And definitely not people calling me racial slurs,” reported WCPO-TV.

“Some of them have been like telling me to kill myself or saying that they’re going to kill me or sexually assault me and calling me racial slurs.”

Students enrolled in the 10,000-student Fairfield Schools live in either Fairfield Twp. or the city of Fairfield.

“Calling people Indians isn’t empowerment,” said Reid. “I think that part of the reason why people think that it is, is because they claim that, well, it’s calling you guys scary and cool, but it’s not. I don’t want to be scary and cool. I just want to be a person.”

Her contribution to a conversation surrounding Fairfield’s mascot isn’t a new one — in 2020, a student-led group called Fairfield for Change began pushing for a rebranding of the mascot, according to reporting by WCPO-TV.

Parts of the exteriors and interiors of many of the schools — including signage — in the school system feature an illustration of the mascot, depicting a warrior’s head adorned in a headdress worn centuries ago by some Native Americans.