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AISD to talk renaming on Nov. 2

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 by Courtney Griffin

Over the past several months, the Austin Independent School District board of trustees has heard many residents’ opinions on Hyde Park-based Robert E. Lee Elementary’s namesake. Monday’s regular meeting was no exception. A total of 26 residents spoke in favor of changing the school’s name, citing reasons ranging from the Confederate general’s stance on race relations to concerns that the name could cause families to avoid attending schools within the district. Supporters said that a petition to change the name had garnered 500 supporting signatures. Other schools were also briefly mentioned in Monday’s discussion regarding the appropriateness of AISD schools bearing the names of Confederate leaders. They include Sidney Lanier High School, located off Payton Gin Road, and John H. Reagan High School, located off Berkman Drive. In addition, District 1 Trustee Edmund Gordon added Travis High School and former Johnston High School to the list of schools with questionable namesakes when he asked AISD staff to provide more information about the circumstances surrounding each school’s naming and the cost of renaming schools. At-Large Board Member Kendall Pace mentioned that Dallas Independent School District had already confronted similar issues and recommended reaching out to learn about its name-changing policies and process. Board President Gina Hinojosa said the board will begin discussing school name changes at its 6 p.m. board dialogue meeting on Nov. 2. The board will work on developing a public participation process to seek nominations for alternate names. Possible action will be taken on the issue Nov. 23.

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