The Houston Independent School District in Texas voted last May to rename eight schools in order to eliminate references to heroes of the Confederacy, as has become standard practice in school districts and other government units across the country, especially in southern states.
But now, the Houston Chronicle reports, a group of parents and taxpayers, angered by the change as an affront to their heritage and history, has filed suit in Harris County District Court against the Houston ISD, alleging the district violated laws and their own regulations.
“We’ve been arguing as parents and taxpayers for months that the vote was illegal” and “politically driven,” said Wayne Dolcefino, a spokesman for the plaintiffs. He believes taking the original names off of the eight historic buildings is against the law.
The original and proposed new names of the schools are
- Jefferson Davis High School → Northside High School
- Richard Dowling Middle School → Audrey H Lawson Middle School
- Albert Sidney Johnston Middle School → Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School
- Sidney Lanier Middle School → Bob Lanier Middle School
- (Robert E) Lee High School → Margaret Long Wisdom High School
- John Reagan High School → Heights High School
- Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson Middle School → Yolanda Black Navarro Middle School of Excellence
The lawsuit contends that renaming the schools will cost the district several million dollars of taxpayer money—and much more than the $2 million the district estimates the name change will cost. Plaintiffs claim the board violated the Open Meetings laws in Texas and a few other laws in deciding to rename the schools, but at the board meeting earlier this spring, when the vote was announced, several attendees reportedly left the room angry.
The district’s costs come down to such things as re-branding school team uniforms and such. The actual costs were not available, and our report is based on other news sources. The Houston ISD is the seventh-largest school district in the country by student population.