Virginia School District Considers Bringing Back Confederate School Names after 2020 Changes

·2 min read

A Virginia school board is discussing whether to restore the names of two schools that were once named for Confederate generals before they underwent name changes in 2020, according to a new report.

The Shenandoah County School Board voted to change the name of Stonewall Jackson High School to Mountain View High School after the murder of George Floyd in 2020 sparked a nationwide racial reckoning, NBC News reported. The board also changed the name of Ashby-Lee Elementary School to Honey Run Elementary School at the time.

Now, the school board has reopened the discussion around the schools’ names after more than 4,000 people signed a petition to restore the original monikers, according to the board’s vice-chairman.

Several of the new members on the six-person board believe the decision to change the names was rushed and did not take into account feedback from community members.

Vice-chairman Dennis Barlow called the board’s decision to change the names “undemocratic and unfair” at a meeting last week. He described Jackson as a “gallant commander” and suggested that those who pushed for the name change were “creepy,” “elitist” outsiders from “the dark side.”

The board reached an agreement to poll constituents on the issue but did not decide if everyone in the area should be invited to respond, or only residents who live within the zoning for the schools in question, NBC News reported. The exact content of the polling is also up in the air, though the board agreed it should ask respondents if they want to keep the new names or restore the originals.

Still, not every board member was on board with the idea of restoring the original names.

Board member Cynthia Walsh told NBC News, “Times have changed, the makeup of our schools has changed and I sincerely believe that revisiting the name change is not what’s best for kids.”

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