A Maryland school board voted unanimously to rename a middle school that bears the name of Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ first superintendent, who did not support equal pay for African American teachers.
George Fox served as superintendent from 1916 to 1946, and the Pasadena school named after him opened in 1949.
Members of the board voted Wednesday shortly after a renaming evaluation committee delivered its report. The committee is made up of community members, parents, historians and school system officials. It first met last September and then met two times a month through January.
One of the five questions that guided the committee concerned Fox’s contribution and his “primary legacy.”
As the county’s first school superintendent, the committee acknowledged Fox’s success in building construction and revising the curriculum. However, it found that he “neglected to invest the same efforts and funds toward advancements in the education of black students,” the report said.
The report also stated that Fox’s legacy is traced to a 1939 lawsuit regarding equal pay for African American teachers, which he opposed.
Another question the committee tried to answer was whether Fox’s primary legacy would make students from all backgrounds feel accepted and included in a school named after him.
“To have students sit in a building named for a man who championed Jim Crow and segregationist policies and structures does not align with the AACPS core value of All Means All,” committee member Jamie Hurman-Cougnet told the school board during the presentation. Hurman-Cougnet is also the vice president of the school’s PTSA.
Approximately 20% of the students who attend the school come from diverse backgrounds, the committee report said.
The next step will be a renaming process that includes getting suggestions for a new name and a meeting to select a name to recommend to the board, which will ultimately be the body to approve a new name for the school.