Washington-Lee High School in Arlington renamed Washington-Liberty

WASHINGTON — During a fiery board meeting Thursday night, the Arlington School board voted to rename Washington-Lee High School to Washington Liberty High School.

“The committee welcomed community input, and considered all information and opinions submitted,” said school board member Nancy Van Doren.

But not everybody agreed.

“You’ve done a good job, at what you’ve done in terms of hocus pocusing the community,” said Dean Fleming of Arlington, Virginia.

“I’m very disappointed in the process and very disappointed in the school board in general,” said Lynne Lilly of the class of 1960.

The school was named after first U.S. President George Washington and Confederate General and Virginia native Robert E. Lee.

“Lee was a rebel and a traitor, and I don’t think he should be venerated in any part of the United States,” said John Holt, a senior at the school who served on the committee that worked on new names for the school.

The decision to rename the school comes after months of discussion and calls to change the school’s name to reflect the diversity of the county.

The school board voted in 2018 to change the name of the school, with one of the top recommendations to call it Washington-Loving, honoring Mildred and Richard Loving — a Virginia couple whose legal challenge led the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the state’s law banning interracial marriage.

Several students opposed to the name change filed the lawsuit, claiming the board failed to follow proper procedures. Last December, a judge tossed out a lawsuit that sought to block the school board from taking Lee’s name off the school.

Jonathon Moseley who represents the students who challenged the school board said they requested the judge to give a written opinion in the case this week, and they are also considering having the judge reconsider his decision. Moseley said another option could be to amend the original complaint.

“Whatever the shortcomings in the process, if any at all, the fact is that a name change is long overdue,” said Jack Dolan, of Arlington.

Before voting on Washington-Liberty, the board took a vote on replacing “Lee” with “Loving” but that vote failed 2 to 3.


Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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