The Austin, Texas, school board has altered a policy that would allow the district to rename schools that have Confederate references in their names or mascots.
District policy had prohibited renaming any property that had a name of “special historical or geographical significance,” the Austin American Statesman reported.
The change allows the board to vote on whether to change the names of any of the schools in the district named after Confederate figures. The board is expected to vote this month on the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School.
In the aftermath of a racially motivated church shooting in Charleston, S.C., this past summer, in which nine African-Americans were killed, residents who live near Lee Elementary have called on district officials to change the school’s name. Critics said that naming the school for the Confederate general is rooted in racism, supporting a man who fought to uphold the institution of slavery.
This fall, my colleague Bryan Toporek reported that “a number of schools across the country, have weighed the history and legacy against growing public sentiment that some monikers and icons are offensive to an increasingly diverse student body.”
Nearly 200 schools across the country bear names of Confederate leaders, Toporek reported.
Austin residents have also asked the board to consider changes to four other schools, the Statesman reported.
In the Houston school system, board members have taken steps to rename six schools that currently have Confederate namesakes.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.