Lee-Davis High School, Mechanicsville, Va.

Virginia district decides to let schools keep Confederate-themed names

April 12, 2018
Hanover County board votes not to remove the names of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson from schools.

The Hanover County (Va.) School Board has voted 5 to 2 not to change the names of schools with Confederacy-linked names.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the vote means the district will keep the names and mascots of Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School, both in Mechanicsville. The decision culminated a months-long process in which the majority of county residents urged the board to leave the names undisturbed.

The schools are named to honor Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson. Eighty percent of the student population at each school is white, according to state data.

The vote to keep the school names bucks a recent trend of districts opting to remove links to the Confederacy because of its association with slavery and racism.

A survey conducted earlier this year in Hanover County found that a little more than 3 in 4 respondents wanted the names and mascots kept. More than 13,000 people responded to the survey.

Alumni of the two schools were the strongest supporters, according to the survey results; 85 percent of Lee-Davis and Stonewall Jackson graduates said the names shouldn’t change. Parents of students at the two schools also showed strong support, at 83 percent.

During public comment period at the board meeting, 10 people spoke about the possible name change — one in favor of keeping the names and nine wanting the names changed.

“The best interest of present and future students has fallen by the wayside,” says Julie Stubblefield, who spoke on behalf of Together Hanover, a Hanover-based nonpartisan organization.

Said Wanda Burcham, who spoke in favor of the names: “The constituents have spoken. You’ve asked for a survey, and you’ve gotten it.”

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