One Texas school board ousted its high school’s Confederate namesake, General Robert E. Lee, on Monday night, unveiling its replacement name: LEE High.
Trustees for the North East Independent School District in San Antonio voted 5-2 at their regularly scheduled school board meeting to rename the high school named for Lee to LEE, an acronym which stands for “Legacy of Educational Excellence.”
Robert E. Lee HS will be known as Legacy of Educational Excellence HS and will be referred to as LEE HS beg. w/ the 2018-2019 school year. pic.twitter.com/2w8xeBEbAi
— North East ISD (@NEISD) October 10, 2017
According to the school district, potential re-branding costs to the community, taxpayers, and parents played a key role in the school board’s decision to swap out Lee for LEE.
“Depending on the new name, the cost to the district could be extensive,” said Shannon Grona, North East ISD school board president. She noted expenditures associated with a re-brand include changing out the “high school’s marquee, signs around campus, the (football stadium) end zone, all of the athletic uniforms, dance, cheer, and band uniforms.”
“As a trustee, it is our responsibility to be fiscally responsible. We can minimize the number of things that need to be changed at the school,” added Grona, making the motion to adopt “LEE” as the high school’s new name. This fiscal compromise also allowed the campus to, essentially, retain the same sounding name. District officials will determine new school colors and a mascot at a future board meeting.
“We can honor the legacy of the past,” stated Grona. “It is my hope that changing the name to Legacy of Educational Excellence will minimize the financial burden and help the community heal.”
LEE was one of the 2,443 submissions the school board received from the community to re-brand the high school during the week of September 19 through 25. However, only 542 of the names met with their criteria that the school be named for an idea rather than an individual, and “embody a wholesome image that would be expected to stand the test of time.” Trustees also requested that a proposed name be welcoming and identifiable to the general public.
This knocked out 1,901 suggestions, including high profile contenders like Sonia Sotomayor, Harriet Tubman, Harper Lee, Charles Lindbergh, Nicola Tesla, and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Generals Ulysses S. Grant and George Patton, as well as Presidents Donald J. Trump, Barack Obama, and Harry Truman.
Some of the rejected submissions were deemed “offensive.” Others, like Snowflake High, Political Correct High, Liberal Hysteria High, Minority Rules High, the Karl Marx School of Understanding and Compassion, and the George Orwell School of Revisionism, injected personal commentary into the name change process. There were silly entries such as Batman and Schooly McSchoolface. Many participants suggested numbering the schools to avoid any future controversy.
In 2015, North East ISD defied the trend to rename Lee High School following the tragic Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting of nine black parishioners. Breitbart Texas reported the board voted 5-2 to keep General Robert E. Lee’s name on their high school, although the incident sparked a nationwide push to drop namesakes with any association to the Old South. At the time, Grona stated: “We have had some who have resorted to bullying, intimidation, and threats in an attempt to change the name.”
By 2016, Houston ISD trustees approved spending nearly $1.25 million taxpayer dollars to dump Confederate-linked monikers on eight schools in favor of politically correct eponyms.
This summer, though, after violence erupted at a Charlottesville, Virginia, protest, North East ISD trustees again voted, but with a very different outcome. Grona voiced frustration with feeling pressure to change the school’s name: “It is so frustrating to me that things that aren’t evening happening in North East (ISD) or San Antonio, or even Texas are once again causing us to discuss the name of Lee High School,” she stated.
The campus will retain the name Robert E. Lee through the remainder of the 2017-18 school year. The name LEE High kicks in fall 2018.
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