By Joe Farkus, NDG Contributing Writer
Pressure increased on the Dallas ISD Trustee Board to take swift action to change the names of four schools named after Confederate figures at the Sept. 14 Board Briefing. The briefing began with numerous parents and community leaders, joined by Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston, calling for a speedy process to change the names of Confederate-named schools.
“If your inboxes are anything like mine, you’ve received quite a bit of communication about Confederate commemorations,” Kingston told the trustee board. He later pointed to the historical fact Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee were named in the 1950s as an apparent reaction to Brown v. Board of Education – the Supreme Court decision that declared the segregation of public facilities unconstitutional. He also urged the board to consider renaming W.T. White High School – a school, Kingston claims, named after White in 1964 for his successful delay of desegregation while serving as Dallas ISD Board Superintendent.
After hours of discussing other Dallas ISD projects and initiatives, the board finally took up the issue of renaming the four specific schools in question, Stonewall Jackson Elementary, Robert E. Lee Elementary, Albert Sidney Johnston Elementary, and William L. Cabell Elementary. With Trustee Board President Dan Micciche open to pursuing an expedited process rather than the usual process outlined by Dallas ISD policy (which would not see a vote on name changes taking place until June 2018), many trustees took the opportunity to push for a quicker decision-making process.
“Policies are made for normal circumstances,” Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa told the board. “These circumstances are not normal. So, you may just need to waive the policy. You need to have a vote before December,” he added.
“For me, it’s a personal issue,” Dallas ISD Trustee for District 6 Joyce Foreman said. “Understanding what my ancestors went through based on slavery.”
Foreman supported the idea of waiving the policy “in its entirety” and urged the adoption of an expedited process.
While there was clearly a broad consensus in favor of changing the names and waiving the normal process for name changes, board member Dr. Lew Blackburn expressed concerns that the scope of these changes might not be broad enough.
“What about slave owners?” Blackburn asked the board, specifically referencing presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. “While we may want to keep it a short list – if we don’t touch the slave owners, then we are in some ways being hypocritical.”
After being pressed on when a vote on a resolution to waive the current policy on changing school names might take place, Hinojosa suggested such a vote could take place in two weeks.