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Virginia School Board Restores Confederate Names to 2 Schools

A Virginia school board voted Friday to restore the names of Confederate military leaders to a high school and an elementary school, four years after the names had been removed.

Shenandoah County’s school board voted 5-1 to rename Mountain View High School as Stonewall Jackson High School, and Honey Run Elementary as Ashby Lee Elementary.

Friday’s vote reverses a decision by the school board in 2020, a time when school systems across the South were removing Confederate names from schools in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

School board members who voted to restore the Confederate names said the previous board ignored popular sentiment and due process when the names were stripped.

Elections in 2023 significantly changed the school board’s makeup.

Board member Gloria Carlineo said during a six-hour meeting that began Thursday night that opponents of the Confederate names should “stop bringing racism and prejudice into everything” because it “detracts from true cases of racism.”

The lone board member to vote against restoring the Confederate names, Kyle Gutshall, said he respects both sides of the debate but believed that a majority of residents in his district wanted to leave the Mountain View and Honey Run names in place.

“I don’t judge anybody or look down on anybody for the decision they’re making,” he said. “It’s a complex issue.”

Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was a Confederate general from Virginia who gained fame at the First Battle of Bull Run near Manassas in 1861 and died in 1863 after he was shot in battle and had his arm amputated. Jackson’s name was also removed from another high school in Virginia’s Prince William County in 2020 that is now known as Unity Reed High School.

Turner Ashby was a Confederate cavalry officer who was killed in battle in 1862 near Harrisonburg, Virginia. A high school near Harrisonburg is also named for him. Robert E. Lee was a Virginia native who commanded Confederate forces.

The resolution approved Friday by the school board states that private donations will be used to pay for the name changes.

Shenandoah County is a largely rural jurisdiction with a population of about 45,000, roughly 100 miles west of the nation’s capital.

Approximately 340 schools in 21 states currently bear the names of Confederate figures, according to research from Education Week, which has tracked such school names and name changes since June 2020.

Since that time, at least 59 Confederate-named schools have been changed to non-Confederate names.

Shenandoah County appears to be the first district to reverse course.

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