FALLS CHURCH, VA (WUSA9) - For the first time, the Fairfax County School Board heard from members of both sides of the J.E.B. Stuart name change issue. The people who want to change the name believe the school should not be honoring Stuart, who was a Confederate general.
Overshadowing the board's decision is the fact that other Fairfax County schools are named after Confederate leaders. Whatever decision the board makes on Stuart will set a precedent and could have an impact on the names of Shrevewood Elementary, Mosby Woods Elementary, and on Robert E. Lee High School.
After a contentious and long five-hour work session, the board decided it needed more information. It decided to direct the superintendent to obtain brief histories of the names of all Fairfax County Schools. It also wants to have a joint meeting with county supervisors on the issue, since any name change will involve funding.
The board set a vote for July 27 on whether J.E.B. Stuart High School should be renamed. Three board members, Chair Sandy Evans, Janie Strauss, and Pat Hynes, stated publicly that they would vote for a name change. All the other board members are waiting for more information before they vote, but Strauss and Ryan McElveen said they would accept a compromise to keep only "Stuart High School."
At Monday's meeting, two Stuart community members, Denise Patton with the "keepers" group and Ken Longmyer with the "changers" group, addressed the board. The two were appointed to the board's ad hoc committee charged with investigating the issues surrounding a possible name change. But the two sides split and delivered separate reports to the board.
Patton emphasized that surveys of both the community and school show the majority, more than 60 percent, do not want the name changed. She said the "changers" were spreading half-truths and bullying students to push their view.
Longmyer, whose children attended Stuart, said the school logo with crossed sabres are like a noose in that they symbolize white supremacy and that J.E.B. Stuart 's name creates a hostile environment.
Currently, the only policy guiding the FCPS Board is that there be a "compelling need." Board members said they hoped to learn more about the issue to come up with more specifics for this decision that will help in any future questions about school names.
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