A group of parents and the Site-Based Decision Making (SBDM) committee gathered at Robert E. Lee Elementary last week where they decided to move forward with plans to take the Confederate general’s name off the neighborhood school.
“It is a conversation that has been happening for a while,” says Michael Koprowski, a Lee parent of a rising first-grader. Koprowski is the executive director of Opportunity Dallas, an organization that is working “to promote greater economic mobility and prosperity by tackling concentrated poverty and segregation through a comprehensive approach to mixed-income housing,” according to its website.
The parents started out as a small group who just wanted to learn the protocol for how to change a school’s name, but has been steadily growing. “There are still a lot of details to hammer out,” Korowski says.
Koprowski, who formerly worked at Dallas ISD as the chief of transformation and innovation, says the group is working on building community support. They hope to move quickly.
“In 15 years, our kids will ask us where we stood on this subject,” Koprowski says. “That’s what parenthood is.”
The next steps involve future meetings, community input and plenty of paperwork. The process requires a Naming Facilities form, and even though it doesn’t need any number of signatures or a formal vote from the school community, Koprowski thinks community input is important. They must select a replacement name as part of the proposal, which requires support of one SBDM member, one person from the PTA and a Dallas ISD administrator.
Earlier this week, Dallas ISD board President Dan Micciche wrote on Facebook that there would be a discussion of renaming the Confederate schools on next month’s school board agenda. Dustin Marshall, who is the trustee for Lee and Stonewall elementary and penned an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News opposing Confederate names on schools, says he is glad the discussion is on the agenda. Though board policy says that facility names can only be changed at the May board meeting, Marshall speculates that the board could waive that requirement to allow the schools to be renamed sooner.
It adds Dallas to the national conversation that has been raging all week in response to the violence in Charlotteville about the status of Confederate memorials. The heated discourse has been some neighborhood families in an unwanted spotlight.
Leslie Rauscher, a Stonewall parent, wrote a Facebook post directed at media covering the story locally: “Please respect parents, students and teachers during the first week of school, and give us the space to take our children back to campus in a peaceful, celebratory manner. …There will nervous kindergartners and emotional parents marking this important milestone, and they don’t need cameras poking in their faces asking what they may think about the name of the building.”
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