By Joe Farkus, NDG Contributing Writer
The Dallas ISD Trustee Board voted 9 – 0 at its Sept. 29 board meeting to waive the existing policy that lays out a process for changing the names of Albert Sidney Johnston, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and William L. Cabell elementary schools in favor of an expedited process that would see a board vote on the proposed name changes before the end of this year.
While the vote to enact an expedited process was met with no opposition from board members, there was much disagreement over one particular aspect of the proposal. The disagreement centered on language that explicitly stated schools could not submit shortened versions of their existing names to the board for consideration.
“I can’t support that,” Trustee Bernadette Nutall told the board during its discussion of the proposal. Referencing the Dallas group Stonewall Democrats, named after the historic Stonewall riots that sparked the LGBT rights movement, Nutall asked why Stonewall Jackson Elementary couldn’t simply change the name to Stonewall Elementary.
“Is Stonewall a racist name? Or we could just say Jackson Elementary School,” Nutall suggested. “I don’t think they’re going to come back with Hitler or somebody…they’re not going to come back with Donald Trump.”
Nutall’s references to Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump elicited both laughter and noises of disapproval from the crowd. She would also reference the band Jackson 5 as the possible inspiration for a renamed Jackson Elementary School, again eliciting a mix of vocal responses from the crowd.
“We’re spending too much time trying to tell them how to change the name,” Trustee Joyce Foreman told the board. “It’s a community decision. I have no interest in trying to tell the community how to change the name.”
After much deliberation, the council held a vote on removing the language that bans shortened versions of Confederate names from the resolution. The vote failed 4 – 5 leaving the schools in question with less options for name changes.