Bye Bye Lee High

Former Confederate General, Robert E Lee (1807 - 1870). (Photo by Mathew Brady/Getty Images)

So North East Independent Trustees unanimously voted to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School last night.

This issue has been brewing for years, and finally came to a head after the events in VA a few weeks ago made international news.

The school was named for the General in 1958, and has a long tradition of excellence in academics, and numerous extracurricular successes.

In their rush to change the name and scrub Robert E. Lee, the board failed to put a process in place for renaming the school.

This was the second time in two years the board has considered a name change. The last time the board voted 5-2 to keep the Lee name.

This time the charge to change the name was lead by soon-retiring trustee Sandi Wolff, (wife of Commissioner Kevin Wolff and daughter-in-law of Judge Nelson Wolff).

Wolff is moving out of the district, and will be stepping down September 8th.

Wolff said she was “impressed” by the students who filed a petition for the name change, and she hoped this process would be the blue print for other schools in SA to be renamed.

Emailer Brian said he is “stunned” by the vote because 6,000 people signed the petition to keep the Lee name, only 3600 signed a petition to change it.

A few high-profile voices such as former mayor Julian Castro have demanded the name be changed.

Trustee Brigitte Perkins told the Express News and mysa.com she felt bullied into changing the name because of the emotion of the nation following Charlottesville.

“I still feel very strongly about not changing the name,” Perkins said.

Board President Shannon Grona said trustees needed to “take the targets off our backs.”

Many questions remain unanswered. Here are few:

How much money will the name change cost the district? 

Nobody has any idea. The district is already cash-strapped and voted to not give teachers raises this year.

Costs include, but are not limited to signage, stationary, band uniforms, football uniforms, basketball uniforms, baseball uniforms, ROTC uniforms, etc.

What will the new name be?

Again, nobody knows. There is no plan in place for the name change.

Residents and graduates feel it will be difficult to come up with a name that is unoffensive since offense is highly subjective.

A few names that have been suggested are Barack Obama High, Julian and Joaquin Castro High, and Caesar Chavez High among others.

Why was there no public input at the meeting?

Concerned citizens want to know why they didn’t have a chance to voice their opinions at the trustee meeting.

Was this decision based on biographical facts concerning Robert E. Lee?

Apparently, none were discussed at the board meeting.

And now for an exit quote from an email, “Why was Castro even involved in this? He did not go to Lee, and he doesn’t now live in the district. I am starting a petition to change the name of his Alma mater from Jefferson because he was a wealthy, white slave owner!!!

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