Loudoun Co. school board set to begin name change reviews for 9 schools

Virginia’s Loudoun County School Board is set to vote on a new school naming policy, and undergo a review of nine current schools’ names that local researchers say have Confederate and segregationist ties.

The school board on Tuesday is expected to approve a new policy for naming school facilities, to include both newly-built school facilities, as well as the renaming of current schools.

In addition, the school board will vote on whether to begin the review and potential renaming of nine current schools that should be looked at more closely, according to the Black History Committee of the Friends of Thomas Balch Library. The organization was founded in 2000 “to preserve, collect, promote and share the history of African Americans who contributed to the emergence and development of Loudoun County, Virginia.”

Under the new policy, committees would be phased and grouped, but all nine schools would be reviewed during 2023, according to the agenda item.

Each renaming committee would include the current school principal or assistant principal, at least two parents who have students enrolled at the school, two staff members at the school, for secondary schools, a minimum of two student representatives. In addition, two community members who live in the school’s attendance area but don’t have children enrolled in the school, will be part of the committee.

According to the agenda item: “The process to consider the renaming of the identified schools should also be a teaching moment for the students attending the schools.”

The first two schools to be studied would be Frances Hazel Reid Elementary and Mercer Middle School.

“The people/place for whom they are named have a direct association with [the] enslavement of people, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Lost Cause and the American Colonization Society. In our opinion, based on the criteria for this review, the reasons for changing the names of these schools are obvious,” wrote Larry Branch and Stephen Hammond, with the research group, in their April 28 letter to the school system.

Seven other schools would be studied during 2023:

  • Belmont Ridge Middle;
  • Belmont Station Elementary;
  • Seldens Landing Elementary;
  • Sully Elementary;
  • Hutchison Farm Elementary;
  • Ball’s Bluff Elementary
  • Emerick Elementary.

Another school, John D. Champe High School is being researched, and could be added to the list.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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