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Court reverses judge who saved Mukwonago Indians name

Residents opposed to a state order to change the name of Mukwonago High School teams from Indians have lost one court battle, but vow to appeal

The state Court of Appeals on Thursday reversed a Waukesha County circuit judge's ruling that state administrators violated due process in a hearing that resulted in an order that the Mukwonago Area School District stop using Indians as its athletics mascot. A resident of the district had filed a complaint that mascot promoted discrimination.

Other residents challenged the way the hearing was conducted and Circuit Judge Donald Hassin Jr. agreed with James Schoolcraft and Craig Vertz that the state's 2010 law, as applied against Mukwonago schools, was unconstitutional because the decision maker  — a Department of Public Instruction employee — had an impermissibly high risk of bias.

But the appeals court found that Schoolcraft and Vertz lacked standing to challenge the administrative hearing process because they were never part of it.

Samuel C. Hall Jr., a Crivello Carlson attorney representing the two men, said they're not giving up the fight.

"We are disappointed in the court's ruling and believe that all taxpayers should be given their day in court to challenge a law and a process that could cost them thousands of dollars and otherwise impact their community," he said.

"While we plan to file a petition for review with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, we again encourage the Legislature to repeal this law and spare the taxpayers and the courts from unnecessary costs."

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