(Update: More info about original sign's removal)
Criticism of ammunition-maker's sponsorship prompted removal of earlier sign, pending policy review
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Weeks after criticism prompted Bend-La Pine Schools to remove a sponsorship sign for Bend ammunition-maker Nosler from the Mountain View High football scoreboard, the superintendent has decided to allow a new sign for the sponsor while district sponsorship policies are under review.
"After considerable consultation with the district’s legal department," Superintendent Steven Cook will allow the sign to be displayed this fall and "the district will maintain the status quo" for Nosler's sponsorship while the district's policy and procedures for advertising displayed on school property are under review, the school district said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
Scott Maben, the school district's director of communications, told NewsChannel 21 it won't be the same sign as before, but will be in the same location and size.
The original sign was up for about a week this fall when Principal Mike Hicks "asked for it to come down because he thought the sponsor name was too prominent for that location," Maben explained.
"Shortly after, we began to hear feedback about that sign from those who saw it before it came down," he added, so "we decided to hold off on a redesigned replacement sign going back up as we began to review the policy on advertising."
The new sign's "design is still in the works," Maben said, "but the name Nosler will be smaller, and the sign probably will proclaim 'Go Cougars!' in big letters."
As for Nosler-emblazoned JV soccer team shirts, which are not official uniforms, Maben said, "The students who own those shirts are free to wear them. Our focus with this policy has been on the signs, banners, etc. – advertising in/on facilities."
Maben noted that the T-shirts were sold by the JV girls soccer team "as a fundraiser, and they still have them. Not used in games or practices."
Here is the school district's full statement:
Mountain View High School and Bend-La Pine Schools recently heard from community members who questioned the placement of a sponsorship sign below the scoreboard on the Cougars football field. The sign acknowledged the financial support of Nosler, the family-owned company in Bend that produces and sells ammunition, hunting rifles, and other assorted gear. Nosler and its owners have supported the Mountain View High community for over 25 years.
After considerable consultation with the District’s legal department, the superintendent will allow a Nosler-sponsored sign to be displayed this fall below the Mountain View High School football scoreboard.
The District will maintain the status quo with respect to Nosler’s sponsorship at MVHS and other schools while conducting a review of its existing policy and procedures related to advertising displayed on school property.
The review of this administrative regulation will be scheduled for this school year, with the goal of ensuring district policies and procedures appropriately reflect legal requirements, district values and goals, and community standards, and are unambiguous and consistently applied across the district. Following this review and any policy or procedure revisions that may result, all advertising on District property must be in accordance with the advertising policy.
Those who questioned the placement of the Nosler sign in early September asked if it’s appropriate to allow a business name associated with firearms to have such prominent placement at a school. Some referenced the shooting by a former MVHS student at a Bend Safeway store in August 2022, an event that was deeply upsetting for students, staff and our entire community.
As awareness of the sign in question has grown in recent weeks, the school and district also heard from community members supporting how the school recognizes Nosler for its tradition of supporting students in our District.
In response, the District is examining its existing policy and procedures related to advertising displayed on school property.
This District’s administrative regulation states: “Advertising which is consistent with community standards, school curriculum and academic goals, and which is age-appropriate and consistent with district non-discrimination policies, may be accepted for placement in school publications and on certain district property. Advertising on district property shall be prohibited where the circumstances, in the judgment of the superintendent or designee, may be considered exploitative of the students of the district or may otherwise compromise the Districtʼs educational mission.”
The regulation further states that the district will not accept certain advertisements. Those include any which:
- Promote the use of illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling or firearms;
- Are associated with any company or individual whose actions are inconsistent with the Districtʼs mission and goals or community values;
- Promote any product or service not permitted to minors by law.
As we seek to interpret and apply this policy, we must consider:
- What is meant by “promote,” and does a sign featuring the company name/logo promote the use of firearms?
- Would an interpretation extend to any business, including sporting goods stores and general retailers, that sell firearms and/or ammunition? What about businesses that produce and sell alcohol, such as local breweries?
- In Oregon, minors under age 18 may not purchase or possess a firearm, although minors are permitted to use firearms for hunting and target practice.
Bend-La Pine Schools is committed to the consistent application of policy across the district, and updating policies as necessary, with community input. Until the review of the school advertising regulation is completed, school principals or District administrators will review for approval any newly proposed school advertising.