The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board met with the Hayward Community School District Board of Education on February 26 at the LCO Convention Center. The two boards discussed items pertaining to enrollment of LCO students in the district, with special emphasis placed on Act 31, which requires public schools in the state of Wisconsin to teach cultural aspects of Native American history within the state.
"We are making strides in education at Lac Courte Oreilles and our desire is to keep moving forward," said Lac Courte Oreilles Chairman Gordon Thayer.
An ad hoc committee of Governing Board and School Board members was formed to focus attention on raising awareness of Act 31 and how the tribe can assist with developing cultural programming to make sure the Act's teaching requirements for public schools is consistent with the history, tradition and culture of Native Americans in Wisconsin.
According to LCO Tribal Attorney James Schlender, some parents in the state were upset that schools were required to teach Native American history and culture, but that those teachings, he noted, don't always portray accurate representations of Native American history. He stated the purpose of Act 31 is to also show how the tribes and non-native communities have come together in mutual understanding.
Speaking about the significance of forming a joint committee of Governing Board and school district board members, Chairman Thayer emphasized how the committee can advise and lead the rest of the state when it comes to implementing Act 31 standards.
"I hope that through our joint meetings, together we could set the benchmark for Act 31 for the rest of Wisconsin. I believe we have the opportunity to do that," he said.
Named to the ad hoc committee, which is slated to hold its first meeting March 26th, were: School Board members Don Semler, Stacey Hessel, Lynell Swenson, Kim Rumler, Schools Superintendent Craig Olson; and from LCO: Doug Baker, Larry Kagigebi, Mic Isham and Booki Wielgot.