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Friday, July 28, 2017

School board votes to change the name of JEB Stuart High School

The audience at the school board meeting represented both side of the name change debate. 
The Fairfax County School Board voted July 27 to change the name of JEB Stuart High School.

That vote was taken after the board rejected a motion to delay a vote on a name change until October.

The motion to change the name, presented by Sandy Evans (Mason), says the name of JEB Stuart High School should be changed “no later than the start of the 2019 school year.”

It calls for the board to “direct staff to start the renaming process this fall and that as part of that process – in the spirit of compromise and in recognition of the need to minimize costs as well as the desire for continuity by alumni,” it calls for staff to request the Stuart community consider Stuart High School as the new name. “The board further directs staff to create a mechanism for private funding with the expectation that private funding will pay for a substantial portion of the costs.”

Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield), Tamara Derenak Kaufax (Lee), and Thomas Wilson (Sully) voted against Evans’ motion. Megan McLaughlin (Braddock) abstained.

Speaking in support of her motion, Evans said there is a compelling need to change the name to better reflect the values of inclusion and diversity embraced by the board.

While a majority of respondents to a survey opposed a name change, “a significant number of students, alumni, and community members want the change,” Evans said. “Students today are telling me they find the Confederate name offensive. I don’t think we need to do this by plebiscite to determine if this is the right thing to do.”

The decision to name the school for JEB Stuart, a general in the Confederate army and slave owner, was approved in 1958, she noted. That was a few years after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling, when Virginia’s leaders were engaged in a “disgraceful period of massive resistance” against school integration.

“We don’t know what was in the hearts and minds” of the school board members that named the school for Stuart, as there is not much in the public record about how that decision was made, Evans said.

Now, however, “It’s time to make a clear statement that a Confederate symbol is no longer fitting for a school in Fairfax County,” Evans said. The school should be “welcoming to everyone. . . .  We need to educate all children in a discrimination-free, equitable, and inclusive environment.”

The community will be asked to consider alternative names, Evans said. Changing the name to “Stuart High School” is one suggestion. “That doesn’t mean the board has decided on that name.”

Pat Hynes (Hunter Mill) spoke in favor of Evans’ resolution, stating, “we are not erasing history,” as many of those fighting to keep the name JEB Stuart argued; “what we’re doing is writing the next chapter.”

The substitute motion, proposed by Derenak Kaufax, called for the superintendent to define “compelling need” and “community,” review the name-changing process, update the board at its Sept. 14 meeting and submit a recommendation to the board in October.

McLaughlin, Wilson, Schultz, and Karen Corbett Sanders (Mount Vernon) also spoke in support of the motion to delay a decision. Their main argument is that the board failed to follow its own regulations by proceeding with a vote. Instead, they said, the board should have directed the superintendent to engage the community in the process.

“We’re making up the rules as we go along,” Schultz said.

Those who spoke against the motion to delay – Dalia Palchik (Providence), Evans, and Hynes – said there have already been many discussions within the community and during lengthy board work sessions. “This is our decision to make. We can’t keep kicking this down the road,” said Hynes.

Both Schultz and McLaughlin expressed the concern that renaming Stuart will lead to calls for renaming dozens of other schools named for people associated with the Confederacy.

McLaughlin, who noted that Woodson High School is named for a superintendent who served during the period of “massive resistance,” said the board needs to follow its own regulations so it will be in a better position to address future challenges to school names.

Wilson spoke in defense of Stuart’s military career and charged, “student opinion has been largely disregarded or misrepresented.” He said the issue has been so divisive, it has created a toxic climate within the school.

Niharika Vattikonda, the student representative on the school board, doesn’t have a vote, but urged her follow board members to change the school name, noting the name change campaign was started by students “who are offended as they walk by the JEB Stuart sign every day.”

Speaking in favor of Evan’s motion, Ilryong Moon (at large) called upon the board to make a courageous decision. “I don’t know how the descendants of slaves feel. When they say they are still hurt, who am I to say they shouldn’t feel that way?”

“The time is now for the board to right a historical wrong,” said Ryan McElveen (at large), in urging the board to vote for the name change motion.

In response to those who brought up the issue of changing the names of roads and parks, McElveen said, “Our schools are central to our idea of community. They are alive with learning, with dreaming, and with inspiring. They are physical manifestations of our hope for a better future.”

Noting that a third of the survey respondents want a change, McElveen said, “if we waited for a majority to support civil rights, we would never be where we are today,” Before Brown, two-thirds of the public opposed desegregation, and in 1955, more than 80 percent of Southerners opposed having black students in their children’s schools.

“The rights of the minority should never be disregarded,” he said. “It’s up to us to do what’s right. We were elected to lead.”

54 comments:

  1. Awesome great job. Let's rename it the Mason Culmore Center for Microaggression Triggers. That's more honorable than JEB afterall.

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    1. lol did you just sit in front of this computer and refresh every hour to add a new comment

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  2. And now the politically correct FCPS "Thought Police" get to spend more taxpayer money defending the board from the lawsuit. Gotta love it. Symbolism over substance. Just think how many computers this money could have purchased for the school..or maybe even another much needed security person. SAT Prep class? Gang prevention?? Maybe?

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  3. Anybody else notice that all of the sign holding snowflakes in the picture are white? Could'nt they at least find one offended person of color to join their charade? White guilt, much?

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    1. Since when do you have to be a person of color to have an opinion on a racial issue? Saying that they're white therefore white guilt is just as bad as saying their white, you're opinion is invalid because you haven't experience racism.

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    2. The sings are in support of changing the name "Change the Name" I think you're confused ^

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    3. Anonymous snowflake, is that all you can come up with from this article?

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  4. Let's rename all the other schools that were named after anyone that made mistakes or is now on the wrong side of history. Because covering up the past and hiding it never has ill effects. The smart move would have been keep the name and open the dialogue. Teaching from both sides actually spurs intelligent debate. This is crazy. And to compare a $900,000 name change of a school that is riddled with MS13 and poor academic standards to the actual civil rights movement, truly explains the lack of priorities. We would be better served using those funds for educational resources because apparently those making the decisions did not learn critical thinking. Perhaps teaching the next generation should be a priority.

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    1. You are so right, now let's change the names of all of the roads that are from the civil war. Start with John Mosby and go on and on. This is a tremendous amount of money to change the name and a disgrace to taxpayers. Now line up the other schools and let's spend millions!!!

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    2. How is this covering up the past and hiding it? You act like we're redacting his name from all the history books like some sort of confederate voldemort. And didn't this whole name change decision do exactly what you said? start a dialogue? Teach from both sides? Intelligent (for the most part) debate? There've been hundreds of comments on this blog alone across several articles - a lot of them contained a lot of interesting points and perspectives.

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    3. A dialogue that will be dead after we spend hundreds of thousands to change a name. My child went to that school. Apparently the kids find it ridiculous. We are opting for private school because honestly there are a lot of gang affiliated kids and a lack of english speaking. All this time and energy wasted on something stupid rather than focusing on real problems.

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    4. welp. Enjoy private school, probably fewer brown people there.

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    5. Instead of implying someone is a communist now a days you imply they are a racist.

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    6. Don't need to imply much

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    7. I am the one who put my child into public school. I am not white - I am what Mr. Goldberg referred to as "enjoy private school, probably fewer brown people" - it isn't a color thing - it is safety legal thing. It may shock a white person like you that brown people who enter this country legally do not like those that do not enter it illegally and who participate in gangs. That we see this name change as a waste of time and resources - not focusing on the real issues.

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    8. The biggest racists were by far the name changers who bullied, harrassed, threatened, intimidated and silenced all the happy minority students who just wanted the money spent on reducing class sizes and ridding the rats in the school.

      Maybe they can rename the school Sandy Evans and the rats can be the mascot.

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    9. Who said I'm white? What does that have to do with anything?

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  5. Thanks for reporting on this so quickly, Ellie. We're ready to move forward to the name selection process! And we're ready for Bill Curran's office to get us a real accounting of what the activities costs will be, we already have exact figures from the facilities office. We are ready to plan funding through public private partnerships.

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    1. Who are you to be using we like that? I'm not trying to be rude, but with a blank profile and using we in that manner I think its fair to ask who you are.

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    2. Will you also pay for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in new spirit wear, specially for the 50% of minorities living in poverty?

      Also, 90% of the students were polled at JEB Stuart and found to either like the current name JEB or find no compelling need to change the name.

      Couple in that a 100,000 alumni graduates don't want a new name, and what one has is a very unpopular name change process is being unwanted implemented.

      They have said that the current volunteers are disbanding the boosters because they currently spend 200 hours a year, and don't have time to start over from scratch.

      Will you volunteer your 200 hours a year on relaunching a new boosters, or are you just going to move on to another costly school name change campaign?

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    3. 100,000 alumni graduates would mean over 1,500 graduates a year for the 66 years the school has had a graduating class. That's at least 3 times the actual number.

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    4. It's a direct quote from a former vice principal of the school who was against the name change.

      But agreed it looks high.

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  6. And people wonder why Trump won!

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    1. Amen to that!

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    2. Amen to that!

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    3. He won because there are more xenophobes, homophobes and racists than most people realized.

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  7. Can we all sleep easy at night now???


    What a waste of time and money...

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  8. "We were elected to lead" by ignoring the democratic process. Oh sweet irony!

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    1. Asking honestly, how did the school board ignore the democratic process?

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    2. Every survey stated that no one wanted the name change. But the NAACP made this an issue and now the county will waste significant money, resources, etc. on something silly. They should be educating. This school has a gang problem, but you don't see much money, time, and energy thrown at that.

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    3. I don't see what's undemocratic with what you just saod

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    4. One of the board members said "we don't need a super majority (Definition from google:a number that is much more than half of a total, especially in a vote.) also they went out of their way multiple times to make it seem to me like they would of taken any amount of support for a name change as "sufficient need"

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    5. A student poll at JEB in 2016 found 90% of the students either liked jeb stuart name or found that there was no compelling need to change. That's an overwelming 9 out of 10 students.

      The school board has created a reckless and costly precedent that a handful of students (like at JEB Stuart) can force a name change anywhere in the county.

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  9. Hillary Clinton Elementary anyone?

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    1. You didn't need to go there.

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    2. To: Adam Goldberg7/28/17, 7:33 PM

      Suggest you review the video archives of the July 27, 2017 School Board meeting. The first motion was voted down 6-5. It called for the SB to "adhere" to its renaming regulation and define the terminology before entertaining a motion to rename the school. The Gang of Six voted down a motion about following their own rules!

      The Stuart Pyramid rejected renaming the school in an FCPS survey in May 2016. This survey fulfilled the renaming regulation. But Sandy Evans and cronies ignored the results and, obviously, the regulation and proceeded to waste taxpayer time and money on a process that was intentionally manipulated for a predetermined outcome to rename the school. Sandy ignored the majority of her constituents and colluded with the NAACP and other SB members to call for the vote last Thursday. So, Evans worked against her voters and taxpayers who believe that any and all money that would be spent on a name change should go to programs to help these disadvantaged students, not change the name of our school.

      You wanted to know why there is talk of a lawsuit? Watch the archived video. Your answer is there.

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    3. Can you link me to this video? I'd like to see it. Not sure where to find it.

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    4. School Board meeting, July 27, 2017
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M20S98ndwkA

      Here's the link to the SB agenda with the Board Motion to adhere to regulation, R. 8170.7. They voted it down 6-5!

      Here is R. 8170.7 that says it is the school community's decision. Stuart Pyramid rejected a name change and Sandy Evans defied her constituency. Evans and Hynes violated their Oaths of Office and the FSCB Code of conduct. The other 5 SB members who voted for a name change complicitly violated their Oaths and the Code of Conduct.
      http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fairfax/Board.nsf/files/A6Z2RN6CA270/$file/R8170.pdf

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  10. we need to change everything braddock as well. he killed the indians and french fur traders

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    1. Don't forget about Lord Fairfax.

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  11. To those of you who think that if the school name is not changed, Stuart would get a pile of money that would have gone to cover the cost of changing the name - that's not how it works.

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    1. No one said that is how it works. We said do not spend any money, public or private, on anything other than programs that directly help the students.

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  12. The school board needs to focus on real problems at JEB like surging gang activity due to a flood of unaccompanied minors from the border. This is destroying the quality of education and safety at this once reputable school.
    Fix the tangible problems and avoid future crimes and tragedies like this: http://wtop.com/fairfax-county/2017/07/teen-died-sweltering-tractor-trailer-grew-fairfax-county-deported/ (J.E.B. Stuart grad deported on March 2, 2017 after being convicted of assault and battery by a mob, and grand larceny by pickpocketing, with suspected gang connections).

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  13. By voting to ignore the requirements of the renaming regulation the School Board has set a precedent to rename other schools without school area community input. The floodgates are open and Robert E. Lee and Woodson have been under attack by the NAACP. After them come the Colonial slaveholder namesakes and schools named for their estates where the slaves worked.

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  14. So much for spending school money on raising teacher salaries, reducing class sizes, and improving school facilities instead of teaching kids in trailers.

    Let's just raise the quality of education by renaming all the schools. That will help make the students succeed in the new global economy.

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  15. They say school board management should be void of party politics, but the public should know that the seven school board members who voted to waste money on erasing history are all progressive democrats.

    Remember that on election day.

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  16. My vote is to call the school the Trump Dump. Ironic and true to the spirit of Mason District.

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  17. I have no problem with the name change as it reflects the current times. There is no doubt that in 25 years, it will probably change back to JEB Stuart as another generation will yearn for nostalgic times and recognize the wayward ways of our current generation, just as we recognize the wayward ways of past generations.

    However, the taxpayers of Fairfax paid once to have the school named and I do not believe the taxpayers should have to pay to name it again unless there was overwhelming community support ... which there was not.

    Therefore, let those who pushed so hard for the name change COME UP WIITH THE MONEY TO PAY FOR THE NAME CHANGE so that the taxpayer does not have to foot the bill.

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  18. Renaming a high school is not "rewriting history". Rewriting history is claiming the boy scouts called to say "greatest speech ever." Stuart was named during Fairfax County's great resistance to integration, which was unfortunately supported by Supervisor AT Woodson who led the county schools to greatness for about 30 years, but whose racism made him obstruct integration.
    Those people standing in a group in the photo are not snowflakes but group of dedicated community members. It was a large room with name-change supporters of all ages and colors.

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    1. Incidentally it was proven that JEB Stuart was named along with James Madison, Marshall, and RE Lee after famous Virginians. JEB Stuart had his military headquarters on the school premises, which he became world famous for his Quaker Gun ruse as confirmed by a 1950s historical roadside marker.

      It had nothing to do with mass resistance, which was a phenomina in downstate. They even proved that school board members in fairfax of the era got death threats for being so progressive.

      All you are doing is repeating a lie generated by name changers. You are definitely erasing history, besides wasting a million dollars.

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  19. No one's erasing anything here--no books are being burned, no documents are being shredded, no historical buildings are falling into disrepair, and no one's otherwise suppressing anyone's access to information about JEB Stuart at all. In fact, much more information is readily available to me (and anyone, anywhere with access to a computer) than it was when I graduated from JSHS a few decades ago.

    You want to protect history? Real history? Get involved with the Fairfax County History Commission or join the Virginia Historical Society. Donate to the Civil War Preservation Trust. Give to the Smithsonian Institute. Better yet, donate to the National Park Service and speak up for a well-run, properly-funded Department of the Interior.

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