JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A resolution by a Duval County School Board chairman to start the process to rename all schools named after Confederate leaders passed 7-0 Tuesday evening.
Input from school alumni, current students and the community are still needed to begin the process.
“We can do this well,” said board member Cheryl Grymes.
In a letter to board members, Chairman Warren A. Jones wrote "We have come to a place and time in the history of our city, that we must begin the process of renaming all schools named for a Confederate soldier."
In a letter to the board, Jones said, “The effort can help to heal a city that is fractured.”
“As I look across our country and our community, I can come to no other conclusion, the time is now,” Jones said to the board.
Before the meeting, supporters of the name change, including members of the Northside Coalition, pushed for a "Yes” vote.
“People are listening for once. I think a lot of that has to do with corona where we were in our houses for so long and just kind of cooped up. Now, we have the opportunity to see people and see different perspectives,” said Alex Horton.
The list of schools affected would include:
- Joseph Finegan Elementary School
- Stonewall Jackson Elementary School
- Jefferson Davis Middle School
- Kirby-Smith Middle School
- J.E.B. Stuart Middle School
- Robert E. Lee High School
Earlier Tuesday evening, the Northside Coalition hosted a protest demanding the names be changed.
“The question is not why now. The question is why not sooner,” said Ben Frazier of the Northside Coalition.
Before a school’s name can be changed, the district will get input from each school’s advisory council, as well as from current and former students and faculty and staff.
Their recommendation will be sent to Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene who hinted the process will start in August.
"Renaming of existing schools provides a unique opportunity to further develop an identity of the Board and its schools," the letter says. "Renaming of schools must also support the District School Board's mission, vision and core values and meet the best interests of the schools' students."
According to Board Policy 8.59, naming or renaming schools is up to the school board. "Community input is desired and highly valued; however the School Board has final authority over the name of any school," the policy states.
The letter follows an online petition last week demanding the name of Robert E. Lee High School be named, as well as the Northside Coalition Saturday demanding the school board rename all schools named for Confederates.
WEIGH-IN: what would you rename the schools?
You can read the board's policy on naming and renaming schools below: