SKOWHEGAN — Only residents of the school district and state legislators will be allowed to speak at a public hearing-style forum Monday night on continued use of the Indian image and name “Indians” for high school sports mascots.

The decision is drawing criticism that the gathering will be one-sided, but others say it’s fair to give residents of School Administrative District 54 their chance to speak out.

The forum is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday in the gymnasium at Skowhegan Area Middle School. The six towns of SAD 54 are Canaan, Cornville, Mercer, Norridgewock, Smithfield and Skowhegan.

Brent Colbry, superintendent of SAD 54, said school board members are “seeking input about the community residents’ feelings” on the issue and they won’t vote on the matter Monday night.

Colbry said the forum will be based on a legislative model in which people who want to speak can sign up and be called one by one to express their views; it will not be a debate.

Skowhegan is the only high school left in Maine with an Indian mascot – Wells and Nokomis have kept “Warriors” but dropped the Native American imagery – and Skowhegan school officials have been talking informally with tribal representatives for months about how to address the mascot question. Representatives of the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac tribes told a school board subcommittee on April 13 that the use of the word “Indians” is an insult to Native Americans, who long have suffered racial prejudice.

School board member Jennifer Poirier of Skowhegan, who has been active on social media sites discussing the “Indians” issue, said she thinks it is fair to exclude nonresidents.

“I do believe it is fair,” she said Friday. “We held a meeting where the Native American representatives were afforded the opportunity to freely address the board, and now the community is being given that same opportunity.”

At the heart of the matter is using the name “Indians” as a sports mascot, a nickname or good luck charm. Members of the four Indian tribes of the Wabanaki federation want the name changed, saying they are people, not mascots. The president of the Greater Bangor Area NAACP also formally asked school officials to stop using the mascot, calling it “deeply offensive to native people.”