Parents Frustrated After Dixie Belle Team Bags With Names Are Auctioned Off

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- As thousands of Rebel memorabilia was auctioned off at Southside High School on Saturday (Mar. 11), many parents are frustrated after they say their daughters' old Dixie Belle bags were included in the auction after the school required them to return the bags once the mascot was changed.

Several parents stood together to be the first to bid on the bags after they said the team's members paid for them when they submitted money for fees to participate in the drill team.

Each bag features the Dixie Belle name along with each member's name embroidered on the side. Parents said they paid for that embroidery, as well.

"We found out these bags were considered surplus property of the Fort Smith school district," mother, Daphne Dahlem said. "This is not surplus. This is our property that our daughter's names have been monogrammed on."

Dahlem said the team members were told to return the bags or they would be punished.

"When it comes to a point where you have personal property that's being sold for auction, that's when it's time to take a stand and to stand up for our children and get their property back," Dahlem said. "This is not surplus property. This is our property."

The parents were able to place the highest bid at the auction to get all the bags back.

"Through the gracious kindness of another person, we were able to purchase these bags," Dahlem said. "We're going to be able to give all 21 bags back to the parents of these girls."

But, Dahlem along with other concerned parents, this isn't the end of the road because the price of the bags were included in each team member's yearly fees.

"We pay a certain amount of fees each year for our daughters to participate in school events," Dahlem said. "The kids want to participate, they want to provide school spirit. They love this school and they want to be apart of it."

The parents are requesting an itemized audit from the school board. Dahlem has also requested to be included on the agenda for the next board meeting.

"We want to know exactly what our fees have been paying for," Dahlem said. "We're not doing it to cause a stir, but at some point, we need to know what our fees are going for."

Dahlem hopes the school board will assess what they're doing and the process of making a name change for the school.

"It's not just the name change, it's not about someone who is offending someone else." Dahlem said. "When you get down to money and dollars and cents and parents are coming into it, they need to assess that. If we are double paying for these things, we want our money back and want our girls to have them."

Several of the drill team's members were at the auction hoping to get their bags back.

"Girls were very upset and crying because this is something they had to endure," Dahlem said. "They had to go through the name change, they did it without fighting it; they did it because they love this school."

The Dixie Belles name has since been changed to the Southern Belles, following the mascot change from Johnny Rebel to the Mavericks.

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