MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Just outside of Thomas Wootton High School is a sign that delves into the history of the school's namesake. It explains Wootton was a member of Maryland's first Congress, but nowhere does it mention he may have been a slave owner.
"I had no idea that this was named -- you know, going into the slave period," Jenn Betson, whose daughter goes to the school, said.
It turns out at least six schools in Montgomery County may have been named after slave owners: Montgomery Blair High, Francis Scott Key Middle, Col. Zadok Magruder High, Richard Montgomery High, John Poole Middle, and Thomas Wootton High.
The Montgomery County Board of Education is conducting a review to figure out if that's the case.
"It's important because we have history that we have to wrestle with and a community that we have to hear from," Nate Tinbite, student member of the board of education, said. And it's especially because as a board we respond to our electorate, the people who have elected us and the people that we represent."
Tinbite said the review was launched in February, after community members voiced concerns over the name of Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School. Brooke Lee was a segregationist.
"You have people which have came from difficult ancestries, people which have had difficult pasts, that now have to live in a reality that is really harsh to live through being that they have family members that have went through so much, and so much deep history in America," Tinbite said. "And so those are the things that students are bringing up to us."
The review is likely to be completed in the fall, at which point the board will vote on possible next steps. They said one option will likely be to rename the schools.
"Absolutely that the name should be changed we are in 2019 and society, the way society is we do need to change," Betson said.
Changing the schools' name could have significant repercussions, like the high school. Montgomery County itself is named after Richard Montgomery, who is believed to have been a slave owner.