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NAACP, students suing over restored Confederate school names in Virginia

(The Hill) – The Virginia chapter of the NAACP and a group of five students plan to file a lawsuit against the Shenandoah County School Board after it approved a proposal to rename two public schools after Confederate military leaders.

The lawsuit, first reported by NBC News, is the latest development in an ongoing battle over Mountain View High and Honey Run Elementary, originally named Stonewall Jackson High School and Ashby Lee Elementary School. 

“My belief is the Shenandoah County School Board reaffirmed their commitment to White supremacy and the celebration of a race-based rebellion against the United States of America with their vote to name public schools after military leaders of the Confederate States of America,” Rev. Cozy Bailey, president of the chapter, said in a statement.

“When students walk through the halls of renamed Stonewall Jackson High School and Ashby Lee Elementary School, they will do so with inescapable reminders of Confederate legacies that enslaved and discriminated against African-descended people. This community deserves better,” he added.

A worker attaches a rope as they prepare to remove the statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson from its pedestal on July 1, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Shenandoah County, Virginia's school board voted 5-1 early Friday, May 10, 2024, to rename Mountain View High School as Stonewall Jackson High School and Honey Run Elementary as Ashby Lee Elementary four years after the names had been removed. AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
A worker attaches a rope as they prepare to remove the statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson from its pedestal on July 1, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Shenandoah County, Virginia’s school board voted 5-1 early Friday, May 10, 2024, to rename Mountain View High School as Stonewall Jackson High School and Honey Run Elementary as Ashby Lee Elementary four years after the names had been removed. AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

The two schools were renamed in 2020 after racial justice advocates around the nation urged institutions to change building names and remove statues that honored Confederate figures.

But critics of the schools’ name changes argued the renaming was hasty and undemocratic. Attempts to restore the schools’ Confederate names have persisted since. 

In April, the conservative local group Coalition for Better Schools brought the issue to the community once again. In a letter, the organization argued that the legacies of the two generals are complex but important to the community. 

In an early morning vote on May 10, the six-person board decided to reinstate the names

Now, the NAACP and students argue that the board created “an unlawful and discriminatory educational environment for Black students.” 

More than 5,600 students attend Shenandoah County Public Schools, according to the state’s Department of Education. About 75 percent of those students are white, 18 percent are Hispanic and 3 percent are Black.

The lawsuit alleges that in restoring the Confederate names, the board violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Education Opportunities Act.


Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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