WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut town's board of education has changed the mascots of two high schools despite a lawsuit filed in an attempt to keep the schools' former Native American nicknames.

West Hartford's Board of Education voted Tuesday night to change the nickname of Conard High School's athletic teams from the Chieftains to the Red Wolves and Hall High School's teams from the Warriors to the Titans. 

The vote came despite a lawsuit filed Monday by attorney Scott Zweig, a town resident, who argues that the board violated residents' due process rights when it voted in February to end the use of the Native American monikers.

The state last year enacted a law that requires municipalities whose athletic teams use Native American names or mascots to receive written support from a state or federally recognized tribe in Connecticut or risk losing state grants derived from revenue at the state's two tribal casinos, The Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Most of Connecticut's 169 cities and towns receive a grant from the Mashantucket Pequot/Mohegan Fund, with extra money earmarked for communities located near the gaming centers. The amounts are based on a formula that involves a number of factors, including the value of untaxable property within the community. Payments are made three times a year and can total as much as $5 million or more for the larger cities.

West Hartford is scheduled to receive $27,820 during the 2023 fiscal year from the fund. 

Zweig notes in the lawsuit that the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, which is recognized by the state, agreed to support the town's respectful use of Native American nicknames as a way to help teach about the history and culture of tribes in Connecticut.

Dallas Dodge, West Hartford's corporation counsel, said in a statement that the decision to change the nicknames was properly adopted by the Board and is “consistent with local, state and federal policies concerning equity and diversity.”

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