It was standing room only at the Sept. 14 Dallas ISD board briefing, with speakers, observers and media cameras filling up the small board room at Dallas ISD’s new office on Central Expressway.
Trustees reached consensus that the names should be changed, but how and when that change will happen is still up for debate.
Superintendent Michael Hinojosa spoke about his desire to quickly remove the names of four schools with Confederate Army generals, including East Dallas elementary schools Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Traditionally, school names are changed at the end of the year but Hinojosa pushed the board to waive that policy so the district has enough time to get new signage, stationary and uniforms by the beginning of next school year. He asked for a decision to be made before the end of 2017.
The board was split on changing the policy, unable to agree whether to waive it, follow it to the letter or find a compromise. Officially, the process requires the PTA, SBDM and the school administration to submit no more than three new names to the board by April 1. The school board would then vote on the new names.
But all trustees said the renaming process should come from the school communities themselves.
Trustee Dustin Marshall reported that the Lee Elementary community has already submitted the paperwork needed for a name change, though he said the Stonewall community is far from a consensus.
Board president Dan Micciche said that in the coming weeks, there could be a resolution requiring the four schools to change names, though no final decisions have been made.
Of the five audience members who spoke during public comment, all were in support of changing the names. Several of the speakers were parents of Stonewall Jackson and Lee Elementary in East Dallas, joined by City Councilman Philip Kingston.
Stonewall mom Lauren Laughlin moved to Dallas five years ago and loved everything about the East Dallas community, but says she was part of a “large group that is seriously offended by that name.”
Debra Stewart, another Stonewall mother, spoke about hoping to give her African-American son heroes on the right side of history. The “emotional cost is greater than the financial cost,” she said of changing the school names.
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