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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Working group proposed to study Stuart High School name change

School board member Sandy Evans (Mason) plans to ask the board to create a working group to consider  changing the name of JEB Stuart High School and report back with a recommendation by July 2017.

“After reading historical documents and arguments on both sides, considering all the community input to date, and discussing this with my colleagues on the school board, I do believe this high school should have a name that is more reflective and respectful of a diverse community,” Evans wrote in an email to constituents. “At the same time, we need a path that gives the community more time to have input into the decision and address key concerns.”

Fairfax County Public Schools has posted background information on the name change proposal online, including feedback from a community meeting on the issue at Stuart on May 23.

The proposal for a working group would be listed as new business on the school board’s June 30 agenda and as an action item for the July 28 meeting. If approved by the school board, “the working group would consist of students, parents, community members, alumni, and business and community leaders to be chosen by the superintendent in consultation with the board,” Evans states.

Comments from the public indicate “there are strong feelings for and against a name change,” Evans says. Because the most frequently cited objection is about the cost, “one of the working group’s main tasks would be to find viable solutions to address this barrier.”

“The working group would explore public-private partnerships to finance a name change; ways to prevent added burdens on the school’s booster clubs, PTSA, and Stuart school administration; the best method for transitioning from the old name to the new; proper records retention, and the best timing for such a change,” she says. “The working group would also solicit ideas for a new name while identifying ways to honor and preserve the school’s history, traditions and past achievements and to memorialize its decades as JEB Stuart High School.”

Members of the public can email comments to Evans ( or to the full school board ( before July 28 and can also sign up to testify at upcoming meetings on June 30, July 14, or July 28 on the Monday before the meeting.


  1. Oh, for crying out loud!!! What does it take to get anyone to accept responsibility for making what should be a straightforward decision? This proposal isn't about going to war. It's simply about renaming a school. So, hold a few public meetings and put the matter to a vote before the school board. The real issue isn't the name change or the the transition to a new name. That can be accomplished gradually. Furthermore, I doubt if many residents will rise to the defense of Jeb Stuart's personal legacy. What really matters is who to rename the school after. So, solicit some names, hear some supporting testimonials and pick someone. But, give us a break and don't indefinitely drag out this relatively straightforward matter.

  2. FCPS reported at the May 23, 2016 Community Meeting at J.E.B. Stuart High School that it surveyed the Stuart Pyramid with emails and telephone calls in English, Spanish and Arabic.

    Only 35% of this multicultural group of respondents wanted the name changed.

    This is significant, but Evans seems to have her own personal agenda she is determined to inflict on her constituents. “After reading historical documents and arguments on both sides, considering all the community input to date, and discussing this with my colleagues on the school board..."

    So much for representative democracy.

  3. Actually, it isn't straightforward at all.

    In fact, Evans is ignoring her constituency.

    FCPS announced results of its survey at the May 23 Community Meeting at J.E.B. Stuart High School. The survey was taken by email and telephone in English, Spanish and Arabic.
    Only 35% of this diverse group said yes to changing the name.

    Obviously Evans didn't like the results and is persuing her personal agenda at great expense to all.

    Lots of disenchanted donors will be stepping away from supporting a school that no longer bears the name on their and their children's diplomas.

    1. The name is meaningless in itself. As with "Redskins", it's become largely generic. Only a few people bother to consider its actual implications. So, forget about that superficial survey. In isolation, it's pointless. The real issue here isn't Jeb Stuart. At most, he attracted some fleeting attention in this area. The real reason the school needs to be renamed is because Stuart's identity was usurped by segregationists for their own ends. That's reason enough for a name change. So, let's dispense with the superfluous bureaucracy and take a long overdue step toward eliminating a particularly nasty vestige of this county's past.

    2. I think you are misinterpreting the results, which indicate that there is substantial community opposition to the current name. I doubt you'd find many schools where such significant percentages of the community are uncomfortable with a school's current name and would like to see it change. As for this make-believe base of generous donors who are somehow now going to walk away if Stuart's name is changed, (1) it's unlikely they exist in the first place; (2) perhaps they could acquire a bit more maturity in their old age and not make it all about the initials on the letter jackets that have fallen apart in their closets; and (3) a name change could lead to more generous donations from some of the 30,000-plus persons who previously signed a petition in support of changing the school's name.

  4. Evans should have started with a name change for the school board and her own title as Fairfax County School Board Vice Chairman.

    Lord Fairfax made his fortune in the slave trading business, yet she isn't questioning use of his name for the Fairfax County School Board or school system. Hypocrisy?

    Stuart was a career military man. He wasn't interested in slavery; owned two and ended up with none. He was interested in Virginia, which seceded from a loosely formed federal government under the U.S. Constitution. The Civil War defined the united in United States. It put an end to future secession threats.

    Stop the hypocrisy, Evans. Learn your history. Virginia was a seminal location in the Civil War. Civil War generals came from Virginia. It is was it is.

    Keep the school name and celebrate the progress our country has made in the past 150 years. Don't waste more taxpayer time and money.

  5. You can't change history and you shouldn't change a school's name...the name is part of the school's history, too.

  6. "Lest we forget" are words that apply to any number of historical events and figures.

    There are those who believe that the men and women who fought on the side of the South during the Civil War morally deficient by today's standards. Others are "uncomfortable" with the name of a Confederate general.

    While not our finest hour, the Civil War was a defining moment in the history of the United States. It resulted in a stronger, unified country. It is one that continues in its attempts to battle discrimination and welcome those seeking a better life.

    Rather than attempting to revise or eliminate the history that we find objectionable, we should learn from it which requires a knowledge and appreciation of historical accuracy.

    1. It's not about changing or revising history! The building isn't some site of historic significance, like a former battlefield, a cemetery, or Stuart's birthplace in Ararat, VA, which he loved dearly. Heck--the place didn't even come into existence until nearly 100 years after the guy died!

      Time are changing, and they always will; if you want to preserve history, put a plaque on the building and give your attention to preserving places of ACTUAL historical value, which are often struggling with skimpy budgets and sometimes barely known to exist at all.

      Do you really, truly think that JEB Stuart would be happy with his name linked to such a racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse school? The states that formed/joined the Confederacy wanted little or nothing to do with the rest of the United States and were--and still can be seen as--traitors. They lost the war but will have an everlasting place in our history nonetheless. The school doesn't need his name, nor does he need the school.

  7. To Anonymous6/25/16, 10:06 PM

    JEB Stuart High School was named for its proximity to Munson Hill in recognition of Stuart's famous Quaker Guns military deception tactic employed during the Civil War.

    When the school was named the country was preparing for its Civil War Centennial Celebration and prominent Virginians were in the minds of the citizenry who suggested the Stuart name to the school board.

    Naming Stuart High School had absolutely nothing to do with segregation and the "spit in the face" slur contained in the McQuail petition. McQuail's petition (and the Hollywood version) is full of falsehoods and lies.

  8. I would say that, as a group, the "keepers" are a reactionary bunch of older alumni who comfort themselves with a sugar-coated version of history in which they glorify those who took up arms against the United States and fought to preserve slavery. Their selective and misleading reading of history ignores the fact that JEB Stuart's ties to Northern Virginia were limited; that much of the area near the school was a Union stronghold throughout the Civil War; and that keeping the Stuart name would send a distressing signal that Fairfax County, despite its diversity, lacks the courage to undo the unwise decision of its School Board in the 1950s to select a name for a school that sent an unequivocal message to minority students that "this is our [white people's] place; you are not welcome here."

  9. You don't have to go back to the Civil War, or debate JEB Stuart's personal beliefs and the motivation of school board members to reach the conclusion that the school should be renamed. It is irrefutable that Stuart H.S. and R.E. Lee H.S. were named in the midst of Virginia's policy of "massive resistance" to school desegregation, which was probably the most shameful occurrence in Virginia educational history.

    Most younger people in this area are likely unaware of the vicious racism that infected every public activity at that time. Massive resistance left a deep and painful legacy of inequality for Virginia's system of public education and race relations for many years. It perpetuated the existence of mostly segregated schools throughout the state, including Fairfax county. This can never be made right and should never be forgotten. So why not take this as an opportunity to rename the school for the local hero who peacefully and lawfully tore down the wall of Jim Crow segregation brick by brick -- Thurgood Marshall.