Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield, Virginia, will change its name after the Fairfax County School Board voted on the issue on Tuesday night.
Fairfax County Superintendent Scott Braband has proposed six new names for the school board to vote upon. They are John Lewis, Barack Obama, Mildred Loving, Cesar Chavez, Legacy and Central Springfield.
The new name will go into effect to start the 2020-21 school year. A one-month comment period, that includes community input on a new name not included in Braband's recommendations, immediately begins.
“We are grateful for the feedback provided by the community during this process," School Board vice-chair and Lee District representative Tamara Derenak Kaufax said. "We have carefully considered their input, and will be moving forward with the name change at Lee High School. As I stated in February when this process began, Confederate values are ones that do not align with our community. I have seen the pain and hurt that these names have inflicted on friends, colleagues, and community members. Our schools need to be places where all students, staff, and members of the community feel safe and supported.”
There will be a community meeting on July 15 to discuss the names, followed by a public hearing on July 22. From there, the board will vote on a new name of the high school on July 23.
Robert E. Lee High School is not the first Fairfax County school to make a change. Earlier this month, Fairfax High School changed its mascot from the Rebels to the Lions. Formerly J.E.B. Stuart High School, named after a Confederate general, adopted Justice High School ahead of the 2018-19 school year.
Neighboring Arlington County high school Washington-Lee changed its name to Washington-Liberty to rid itself of references to top Confederate general Robert E. Lee in January of 2019.
The recent decisions by schools to dissociate themselves with past names come at a time of great civil unrest throughout the country following the murder of George Floyd. Major sports such as NASCAR have made changes such as banning the Confederate Flag, while other leagues have shown support for protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.