THERMAL (CBS/AP) — Coachella Valley High School has retired a controversial Arab mascot.

The hook-nosed, snarling mascot who wears a head scarf did not appear at the school’s season opening football game Friday. A belly-dancing genie that often appears with the mascot was also retired.

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The Desert Sun reports the retirement is among the steps the Coachella Valley Unified School District is taking to give the mascot a makeover.

The Arab mascot has existed since the 1920s to recognize the desert region’s reliance on date farming, a traditionally Middle Eastern crop. It came under fire last November when the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee complained that the mascot was stereotypical.

The school district refused to change the school’s “Arabs” nickname, but agreed to redesign the Arab face on the school logo.

The face is still on the school’s welcome sign, gym and website.

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Coachella Valley High School has long used the "Arab" mascot with traditional Arab head covering, but recently changed its website to reflect an updated mascot. (Photo courtesy CVUSD)

Coachella Valley High School has long used the “Arab” mascot with traditional Arab head covering, but recently changed its website to reflect an updated mascot. (Photo courtesy CVUSD)

The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee calls the removal of the mascot a good first step.

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