Florida School Board Votes to Rename 6 Schools Named After Confederate Leaders

Florida School Board Votes to Rename 6 Schools Named After Confederate Leaders

A Florida school board this week voted to rename six schools that were named after leading figures in the Confederacy during the Civil War, The Hill reports.

The Duval County School Board on Tuesday voted to recommend that six schools named after Confederate leaders change their names. They did not, however, vote to change the names of three other schools, one of which was named after President Andrew Jackson, who supported slavery and forced Native Americans to leave the East and travel along the Trail of Tears to the West, and the other two that were named after French colonizer Jean Ribault. 

The schools that are set to be renamed include: Joseph Finegan Elementary, Stonewall Jackson Elementary, Jefferson Davis Middle, Kirby-Smith Middle, J.E.B. Stuart Middle and Robert E. Lee High. Andrew Jackson High, Jean Ribault High, and Jean Ribault Middle, all in the Jacksonville-area, will not have their names changed.

“It is a challenge,” Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Diana Greene told FirstCoast News. “You think you know what is going to happen. You think you know how you are going to feel, but then when it happens, a flood of emotions came over me.”

Greene had recommended to the school board that they change the names of the six schools named after Confederates, but not the names of the other three schools. The votes to change the names of the six schools all passed 5-2. An amendment to rename Andrew Jackson High School failed by a vote of 3-4. In the votes to uphold the names of the other three schools, as recommended by Greene, Jean Ribault High School and Jean Ribault Middle School passed unanimously, and Andrew Jackson High School passed by a vote of 4-3.

The superintendent noted in her comments before the vote took place that the graduate rate at Westside High School rose to 90% after changing its name from Nathan B. Forrest High School, which had a graduate rate of 62% before the name change.

“I say it because really, the reason it is 90%, it’s about the people,” Greene said. “The students, whether it was called Nathan B. Forest, or when it was called Westside, somebody had to make an impact on those children to ensure that they would graduate.

She added, “This is a very brave decision that this board chose to initiate. And a very tough decision.”

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Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.