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Dallas ISD votes 9-0 to rename Confederate school names

DALLAS – Trustees at the Dallas Independent School District voted unanimously on Thursday night to rename four campuses which were originally named after Confederate generals.

Board members did not select new names but rather left that process up to the communities near the schools.

William L. Cabell, Stonewall Jackson, Albert Sidney Johnston, and Robert E. Lee elementary schools will all have new names by next summer.

"History is not going anywhere. History is in the history books," said Seth Laughlin, father of two students at Stonewall Jackson.

Despite the lightning rod issue, not many people attended the meeting to speak out for or against the name changes.

"History is history. People should grow up and get over it," said another father opposed to the name changes.

The board agreed to let Robert E. Lee Elementary keep the new name its community already generated. The school and community agreed to change that campus to Geneva Heights Elementary. Rather than starting the process over under the guidelines of the resolution, trustees agreed to let that school keep Geneva Heights Elementary since it incorporated 270 voices, according to board member Dustin Marshall.

The board also debated whether to let communities shorten existing names of those four schools. For example, some parents at Stonewall Jackson Elementary wanted to shorten it to Stonewall.

In a 5 to 4 vote, the board said no. Each campus must come up with a new name that isn’t a variation of an existing name.

Much of the conversation centered on Stonewall Jackson Elementary which appeared to be most represented.

"We didn’t pick the name. We’ve done the best we can with the name we’ve been given. It comes with a lot of baggage," said Brandon Lee, parent of a student at Stonewall Jackson. "I don’t think it’s hypocritical to say we want the name changed, but we’ll also be a little sad when a new name goes up out front."

The process picks up speed now. By February 1, schools must submit new names for the board to consider. Later that month, the board will vote whether to accept those names. If approved, they would be implemented on July 1, 2018.

Dallas ISD estimated the cost to change the four school names to cost the district about $150,000 which would cover things like facades and gymnasium floors.

The staff added that much of that could be funded with bond money as interiors and exteriors of these schools are already due for updates.

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