FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Fairfax County’s school board has taken the first step in the process which could lead to the renaming of J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church.
The high school is one of two schools in the county named after a confederate and has become the center of a name debate in recent months.
“We know that it was named during massive resistance. We know that the plot of land it sits on had historical significance because it was the site of the largest confederate flag in the whole region,” said Ryan McElveen, who supports the move to ask the community how to proceed.
At a forum in at Luther Jackson Middle School, the board voted to allow the superintendent to organize a community engagement plan that will include surveys and public hearings on the name.
“We’ll gather all the information from the public, then we’ll bring it back to the board, and then they can decide whether or not we should change the name of the school,” said Superintendent Karen Garza.
This vote comes after a recent policy change that gives the board the ability to rename a school if there’s a compelling need.
“There is something wrong about attending a school named to honor a man for his contribution to the confederacy,” said Marley Finley, a senior at the school who is among the students calling for a new name.
There also have been calls for a name change at two other schools, Robert E. Lee High School and W.T. Woodson High School. Woodson was named after a former superintendent who opposed desegregation. The vote only pertains to J.E.B. Stuart High School.
Several online petitions have been created for and against the calls for the renaming of the schools.