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Dallas ISD rethinking effort to rename schools

(AP) | 9/24/2017, 2:23 p.m.
Dallas Independent School District is narrowing its focus as it looks to rename some schools bearing the names of Confederate ...
Protestors stand on a Confederate flag in protest of monuments and building commemorating the Confederacy. Association Press

(AP) – Dallas Independent School District is narrowing its focus as it looks to rename some schools bearing the names of Confederate figures.

The district initially planned to research more than 20 historical figures to see if their ties to the Confederacy or slavery should prompt a school name change. That list included names like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Dallas pioneer William Brown Miller.

District leaders now say they’re focusing only on schools named after Confederate generals. A vote is expected later this month on four elementary schools named after Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Albert Sidney Johnston and William Cabell.

Chief of School Leadership Stephanie Elizalde said the district wants to quickly take action on names with a more significant negative meaning. However, she stated, school officials are faced with the difficult decision of where to draw the line when it comes to what level of involvement in the Confederacy may merit a name change. Some of the schools’ facilities are named after those who have lesser Confederate ranks or who were involved in non-combat roles.

“If it was named for the single purpose of promoting white supremacy, then it should be changed,” Elizalde said.

Trustee Lew Blackburn said the school district would be somewhat hypocritical if it didn’t also address slave owners, including Miller.

Trustee Dustin Marshall said the distinction the district should look at shouldn’t be the position the historical figure held, but whether the school was named to honor an individual for their role in the Confederacy. He said, for example, he wouldn’t support changing the name of Benjamin Franklin Middle School.

The district is trying to respond to violence that erupted at a white supremacist rally last month in Charlottesville, Virginia, said Board President Dan Micciche.

The board will collaborate with staff and parent groups to come up with new names for schools under review. Micciche said he hopes the name change will be completed by the end of the year.

Changing the name of the four schools could cost between $25,000 and $100,000 per school, depending on the type of marquee at the facility, Elizalde said.