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AISD says yes to Robert E. Lee Elementary name change

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 by Courtney Griffin

The Austin Independent School District board of trustees finally voted to move ahead with the name change of Robert E. Lee Elementary School in an 8-0-1 motion at Monday’s regular meeting. District 3 Trustee Ann Teich abstained, stating that although she disagreed with the name change, many of the people who had spoken in opposition to the change had said some “ugly things” during the process and influenced her decision to abstain. The vote wraps up nearly a year of debate and community engagement related to schools named after Confederate leaders. Since July, residents have presented to the board a variety of arguments for and against the change, the latter including a proposal that the elementary school seek historic landmark status. On Monday, board Vice President Paul Saldaña said the city’s Historic Landmark Commission decided to delay its ruling in order to give AISD trustees an opportunity to vote on Lee Elementary. Board members took turns voicing their opinions before voting. District 5 Trustee Amber Elenz – who has the school within her district – said that many in her community have put more than 200 hours into debating this issue, and she looks forward to moving on to other issues. Lee Elementary’s campus advisory committee is slated to submit three potential new names for the school by May. Residents have a chance to submit names to the committee in the meantime. The AISD board must approve the new name submitted by the campus advisory committee before one becomes official.

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