Fairfax, Pr. William county schools named for Confederate generals could be renamed

In Virginia, two schools in Prince William County and one in Fairfax County named for Confederate generals could soon have new names.

After a week of local protests following the death of George Floyd, while being restrained by Minneapolis police officers, Prince William County Public Schools Superintendent Steve Walts said the school system should rename Stonewall Jackson High School and Stonewall Middle School.

Both schools in Manassas are named for the Confederate general.

“It is an insult and an affront to our students, especially in schools where the majority of the students are students of color,” Walts said, in a Friday statement.

Walts also called on the school board to ban wearing or flying the Confederate flag on school property: “This behavior is often meant to intimidate students of color, and as such, it is a disruption to the educational environment.”

In addition, Walts will assemble a panel to “promote a greater understanding and relationship between our community and our police department.”

In Fairfax County, the community engagement process will resume June 22 on the proposal to rename Robert E. Lee High School, in Springfield.

Opened in 1958 as Lee High School, the school’s name was officially changed to Robert E. Lee, for the Confederate general, in 1964.

Shortly before the coronavirus pandemic, the Fairfax County school system held a community meeting on changing the name of the school. Participants were invited to submit suggestions for a new name online and through email.

On June 22, a virtual public hearing will be held. The school system is providing information for people to speak.

The next day, June 23, the Fairfax County School Board at its regular business meeting will take action on whether to change the school’s name. If the board approves the action, Superintendent Scott Brabrand would present one or more recommendations for a new name the same day.

In 2017, the Fairfax County School Board voted to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School, named for a Confederate general from Virginia. The school was rededicated as Justice High School in 2018.

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