Fairfax Co. School Board Votes to Begin Process of Changing Name of Robert E. Lee High

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The Fairfax County School Board voted unanimously Thursday night to begin the process of possibly changing the name of Robert E. Lee High School.

Junior Kimberly Boateng sees the name of confederate general every day walking into school and is greeted by a large portrait of him in the lobby.

“It’s outdated, and at this point, I’ll call it egregious,” she said.

She said her school is a majority minority.

She said she learns about the Civil War in history class and doesn’t want a reminder of that history plastered on the walls.

“The confederacy wouldn’t have wanted to see that many students of color being educated in that kind of institution, and here’s the confederate leader in that school,” Boateng said. 

For the school board, there’s a lot of work before a name change can happen, including selecting a new name, for which Virginia has specific guidelines.

If the change is approved, it would be the third Northern Virginia school to shed a confederate name. JEB Stuart recently changed its name to Justice, and Washington-Lee changed to Washington-Liberty.

“To have the name Robert E. Lee, it reflects the school in a negative way,” Boateng said. “We shouldn’t have to explain ourselves that we are not our name.”

The Fairfax County School Board said it wants the renaming to move quickly. The school board will present a renaming proposal at an upcoming meeting and solicit public input. The board wants to know if the community supports the change and what the new name should be.

If approved, the name could be changed as early as summer.

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