The Wappingers Central School District can't seem to catch a break when it comes to selecting a school mascot.

After 60 years of calling themselves the Indians, the Ketcham High School and Wappingers Junior High sports teams were forced to relinquish the moniker. The New York State Board of Regents unanimously voted last year to ban Native American mascots, team names and logos in New York public schools.

Mascot Controversy in Wappingers Central School District

While the Wappingers School Board had debated changing the outdated mascot over the years, they ultimately had to be forced to do so. This left both Ketcham High School and Wappingers Junior High with the task of choosing a new logo and mascot.

After a student vote, Ketcham High School decided on "The Knights", which was ultimately rejected due to the fact that the school has a history of calling its fans the "Ketcham Krazies".  The "Krazy Ketcham Knights" could be seen as problematic, unintentionally drawing comparisons to the KKK.  It was finally decided that the high school teams would be known as "The Storm".

Wappingers Junior High students voted that their teams would be called "The Wildcats". While that decision was approved by the school board, a new wrinkle has the potential to land the school district in hot water again.

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A. Boris
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Wappingers Central School District Allegedly Using Copyrighted Image

Merchandise, signs and digital images advertising the new Wappingers Junior High logo have begun to appear around the school. Some students and parents who've seen the Wildcats mascot have done a doubletake, claiming that it looks awfully familiar.

The logo appears to be an exact copy of the Dodge Hellcat logo, used on supercharged versions of its sportscars. The cat image signifies that the car comes with a high-powered engine that can exceed speeds of 200mph. Hellcat versions are available for the Durango, Charger and Challenger.

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Dodge/A. Boris
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Every detail of the new Wappingers Wildcats logo, from the pointed ears, exaggerated teeth and swooping cheekbone matches the Dodge Hellcat logo exactly.

If the school is, in fact, using the logo without permission it's probably only a matter of time before Dodge swoops in with legal action. Car companies are especially litigious when it comes to their names, trademarks and logos, and for good reason.

In the unlikely event that the team was involved in some sort of scandal or legal trouble and the logo was shown negatively on newscasts, it could bring harm to the company's image. For this reason, and to protect their intellectual property being used by other companies, businesses take copyright violations very seriously.

Car Companies Have Sued Hudson Valley Businesses Over Trademarks

The old Lexus Diner in Newburgh was famously served a cease and desist order by lawyers for the Lexus car company. Even though the diner's name predated the debut of the car brand, the local business was threatened with a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Ultimately, the diner was forced to rename itself to the Alexis Diner to avoid legal trouble.

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Dr. Dwight Bonk, Superintendent of Schools, indicated that he was unaware that the logo was being used. He tells us that the district will be investigating the matter further.

The logo in question, or any potential logo for that matter has not been submitted to the Wappingers School District Administration. and subsequently the Board of Education for approval. The District/ and or school is not promoting or selling any merchandise that includes this logo. Once a logo is chosen, the required approval process will be followed.

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