NEISD board votes to change name of Robert E. Lee H.S.

Citing  student safety concerns and today's highly charged political climate,  North East ISD's board of trustees Tuesday evening voted 6-0 to drop the  name Robert E. Lee from one of its high schools.

Trustees  stopped short of choosing another name for the campus, which opened in  1958, deciding instead to gradually transition away from the  controversial name of the Civil War Confederate general. Board members  agreed that the name change will not take place during the current  academic year.

Departing  board member Sandi Wolff offered the initial motion for the name  change, and proposed using a "framework" developed by NEISD students to  complete the process. Trustees suggested that expenses incurred by the  name change be shared by the district and a community fund-raising  effort.

Following  the 5:30 p.m. board meeting, which required the district to open up  overflow seating, Wolff said there are "no winners" whenever elected  officials vote to drop the names of Confederate icons from campuses.

Christopher  Herring with the Texas Association of African American Chambers of  Commerce considers the decision a :"huge victory" in a time of  increasing ideological and racial tension.

"North  East ISD did the right thing," Herring said. "I think that trustee  Wolff and her comments about making this focused around the students  were so important.

"It  has nothing to do with erasing history or removing history; our country  was based on change," said Herring, who favors re-naming Lee High  School for former San Antonio Mayor Lila Cockrell, "a great mayor, a  woman who's just a true pioneer. 

"Change does not have to be looked upon as being negative," Herring said.

But  for 1978 Lee alumnus Leslie Wilson, the vote represents giving in to "a  small subset of the population that is growing by leaps and bounds  through - I hate to use the word total 'ignorance' - but I don't know  any other word to use.

"What happened in Charlottesville," Wilson said, "has absolutely nothing to do with what's going on in San Antonio."

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