The Fairfax County School Board voted during its meeting at Luther Jackson Middle School on July 27 to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School no later than the start of the 2019 school year. The specific motion, introduced by Board member Sandy Evans (Mason) and approved by the Board, reads:
I move that the name of J.E.B Stuart High School be changed no later than the start of the 2019 School Year.
I further move that the Board direct staff to start the renaming process this fall and that as part of that process-in the spirit of compromise and in recognition of the need to minimize costs as well as the desire for continuity by alumni—staff request that the Stuart community consider “Stuart High School” as the new name.
The Board directs staff to create a mechanism for private funding, with the expectation that private funding will pay for a substantial portion of the costs.
Seven Board members voted for the motion, two opposed it, and two abstained. The voting breakdown follows:
Voting Yes: Sandy Evans (Mason), Pat Hynes (Hunter Mill), Ryan McElveen (At-Large), Ilryong Moon (At-Large), Dalia Palchik (Providence), Karen Corbett Sanders (Mount Vernon), Jane Strauss (Dranesville)
Voting No: Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield), Thomas Wilson (Sully)
Abstaining: Tamara Derenek Kaufax (Lee), Megan McLaughlin (Braddock)
Before the vote passed, the Board had denied a motion proposed by Board member Tamara Derek Kaufax (Lee) to have the board and school staff study the issue further—specifically to define such terms as “compelling need,” “sufficient support,” and “community”—consistent with the process established by the Board for resolving this issue and with a date of October 2017 as a deadline for voting on the issue. Ms. Koufax and others argued for the Board to follow a replicable process for making this decision, as it may set a precedent for 31 other school buildings in Fairfax County that have names associated with slaveholding and the Confederacy. The Board rejected this motion on a 6-5 vote. The voting breakdown for that motion follows:
Voting Yes: Sandy Evans (Mason), Pat Hynes (Hunter Mill), Ryan McElveen (At-Large), Ilryong Moon (At-Large), Dalia Palchik (Providence), Jane Strauss (Dranesville)
Voting No: Tamara Derek Kaufax (Lee), Megan McLaughlin (Braddock), Karen Corbett Sanders (Mount Vernon), Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield), Thomas Wilson (Sully)
Votes on the motions followed passionate presentations for and against the name change by County residents during the public testimony period and then extensive Board discussions about each motion.
A video of the full School Board meeting is available below.
Watch for commentary on this controversial Fairfax County School Board decision in future Fairfax Free Citizen articles.