Students of Robert E. Lee High in Fairfax County call for name change

As Confederate statues and symbols fall, the Fairfax County, Virginia, school board is scheduled to vote Tuesday evening on a recommendation to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield.

The process has been delayed since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the Fairfax County Public School system got back on track with an online public hearing Monday — the final hearing before Tuesday’s expected vote.

Students spoke out during the public forum, with many saying they felt shame and disgust attending a school named for the Confederate general.

“The name is, in all honesty, an embarrassment to the many students that attend Lee High School, the 80% minority population that goes to that school every day, ” said Kimberly Boateng, the student representative for the Fairfax County School Board.

Some students registered disgust with seeing the portrait of Lee in the school lobby. Others lamented that their diplomas bear the name of the Confederate general.

The school board voted in 2017 to remove the name of another Confederate general, J.E.B Stuart, from a Falls Church high school now named Justice.

If the board votes to remove Lee’s name at its Tuesday meeting, Superintendent Scott Brabrand will have one month to offer a new name for the high school.

In recent years, schools in Virginia named for Confederate figures have discussed name changes.

Last week, the Fairfax High School community changed its community name from “Rebel Pride” to “Fairfax Lions.”

Two schools in Prince William County are looking to change their names, which currently feature the names of a Confederate general.

And about a year ago, a high school in Arlington County was renamed Washington-Liberty.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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