HISD Board of Education to consider resolution beginning process of renaming certain schools

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education on Thursday is expected to consider a resolution that would begin the process of renaming schools in order to represent the values and diversity of the school district, in accordance with the district’s non-discrimination policies.

The resolution was brought forward by Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones. It would affect eight schools: Henry Grady, Richard Dowling, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Albert Sidney Johnston, and Sidney Lanier middle schools, and Jefferson Davis, John Reagan, and Lee high schools.

If the resolution is approved, each campus would be required to form a school-naming committee comprised of diverse staff, students, parents, and school stakeholders. That committee would be charged with exploring school renaming options that adhere to board guidelines and submitting recommendations to trustees by May.

In October, the board revised the district’s policy for naming and renaming school buildings and other district facilities. The updated policy outlined a process by which school board trustees may initiate the renaming of a facility, if they believe it to be in the best interest of the district.

If the current measure is approved on Thursday, HISD and the eight schools will work to ensure each school community has a voice in the decision-making process and recommends a name that represents the mission, spirit, culture and success of each campus.

Also on Thursday, the Board of Education is expected to consider several other proposals being brought forward by the Board President:

  • Consider a plan calling for the evaluation of attendance zone boundaries for all schools within HISD. The first phase of the plan would be to seek out an independent consultant who could help the district determine future needs based on current and anticipated population changes across the city.
  • Consider the first reading of a policy revision banning suspensions and expulsions for students in second grade and below, except as required by law. The move is designed to ensure discipline is administered equitably throughout the district. Last month, the board approved a policy update that ensures suspensions and expulsions are used only as a measure of last resort.
  • Consider approval of new magnet programs at nine HISD schools. The proposal would approve fine arts magnet programs at Atherton, Crockett, and Kashmere Gardens elementary schools; Dowling, Key, and Ortiz middle schools; and Kashmere and Westbury high schools. It also would allow for STEM magnet programs at Hartsfield and Stevens elementary schools.
  • Consider approval to develop magnet programs in four new areas: Careers, Business Development and Entrepreneurship, Public Interest Law and Advocacy, and Government Relations and Political Practice.
  • Consider a policy revision that would require schools to use their allocated funding to hire certain essential positions, such as counselors, librarians or nurses. The positions required for each school would be determined by district administration based on student population and grade levels at each campus.

The board’s regular monthly meeting begins at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in the board auditorium of the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center, 4400 W. 18th Street. Click here to view the full agenda. The board meeting will be broadcast live online at www.hisdtv.org.

2 thoughts on “HISD Board of Education to consider resolution beginning process of renaming certain schools

  1. jim doylej

    The names of the mentioned schools should never be changed.they are named after real heroes of the time in which they lived.Richard Dowling for instance drove off an enemy invasion in action that kept them out for the duration of the war.The history of their greatness should always be taught to the children of Houston as a shining example of gallant citizenship in defense of family and country.

    Reply
  2. Chris Spadaon

    Dear HISD Board of Education:

    Please do not rename the HISD schools named after Confederate generals and leaders. I am a high school history teacher who believes it is wrong to hide America’s racist past.

    Texas and the United States benefited from slavery; Texas left the Union and fought in the Civil War to protect slavery. Why deny the past and deny our history of racism? To change the name of Lee High School or Johnston Middle School does nothing to change today’s society, it only obscures the past.

    As an educator I encourage the Board to leave monuments of Texas’ racist past as monuments our state’s previous poor judgement. Let the Confederate names survive to serve as a starting point for discussion of the complexity of the past. Why did Texans rebel against the United States? The Confederate names stand as a warning to our possible susceptibility to extremist ideologies.

    Schools and monuments built in honor racist leaders should not be left untouched. I encourage school leaders to develop plaques and panels which discuss both the contributions and controversies surrounding past leaders. History is complex. Washington, Jefferson, Lamar, & Houston all owned slaves. As educators, should we erase their names and sanitize or encourage intelligent discussion? While I strongly encourage HISD to preserve its racist past, I applaud the dialogue it has provoked.

    Sincerely,

    Christopher Spadone

    Reply

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