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."