The Scarborough Board of Education has approved the removal of the Native American mural that was painted in the Plummer Gym of Scarborough High School. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

SCARBOROUGH — On July 30, after a recommendation from Superintendent Sanford Prince, the Board of Education has approved the removal of the Native American mural in the Scarborough High School Plummer Gym.

The mural depicts the head of a Native American individual, which many in the district and community have found offensive, Prince said.

The Scarborough school’s mascot was the Redskins from 1938 until Sept. 21, 2000, when the school board approved changing the name to the Red Storm, he said.

In May of 2019, LD-944, “An Act to Ban Native American Mascots in All Public Schools,” passed, Prince said.

Legal counsel from Drummond Woodsum in the fall of 2019 also recommended that the mural be removed, he said.

“The school board is exposing itself and the town to have legal challenges by leaving the redskin painting in the gym,” the law firm had said. “It is offensive. The image depicts a Native American individualized. It violates the spirit of the law because it represents a time when in fact the mural was a mascot of Scarborough High School.”

The board discussed the issue in February but made no decision at that time.

Prince said that heritage and tradition were not sufficient reasons to keep an offensive symbol, as the image has upset community members. The mural also does not reflect the district’s desire to “stand strong with being a welcome and inclusive environment for all.”

There could be the possibility of recreating the mural in a smaller scale for historical purposes, Prince said, but he would not be involved in that reconstruction.

Every member of the school board said they agreed with Prince’s recommendation to have the mural removed.

Max Bennett, student representative, said that he feels the mural is inappropriate, but the district is heading in the right direction through tackling these racial issues “head-on.”

“It’s almost analogous to if our mascot was a slave, and we had a painting of slave on our wall even though it wasn’t our mascot anymore,” he said. “It’s pretty much the same thing.”

A misconstrued fact about the mural is that it is the original piece, when it is actually a recreation, Nicholas Gill, board member, said.

“This is actually a reproduction of the original mural that was in the original gym, which has been the music room for over 3o years,” he said.

The mural represents a piece of history that has been gone for a long time, Gill, a Scarborough High School alum, said.

“When I think about the behavior that we innocently displayed 20 plus years ago, the chanting in the bleachers, the senior member who had to dress up in basically war paint and run around the gym — you would never do that today. You wouldn’t even think about it,” he said. “So you live and you learn. And when I look at this, that’s what I think. We learned this lesson over 20 years ago and this a remnant piece of history that I think is time to put to rest.”

Board member Hillory Durgin said that she was in favor of removing the mural, but she did not think that the image needed to be recreated for a historical purpose.

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