Robert E. Lee School Renaming Process Advances to Survey Votes Tabulation

The results of the survey will be released next week

Friday marked the deadline for feedback on whether San Diego's Board of Education should rename Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Paradise Hills.

Next week, results of the community-wide survey will be released.

The issue, simmering for years, became hot-button after the racially motivated church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, back in June.

Since then, questions have arisen about how a California grade school came to be named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee in 1959?

"In that time period, leading up to the '60s and the civil rights movement you had a strong period of reaction to the growing civil rights movement in the United States," explains Trevore Humphrey, a historian with the San Diego Unified School District.

"And so during the '50s and '60s as well, San Diego Unified had a huge explosion of schools,” Humphrey continued in Friday’s recording session for Sunday’s edition of NBC 7’s “Politically Speaking. “So they were building schools very rapidly at this time, and they had a list as they went along through that list -- and they weren't necessarily as thoughtful as we might consider today when naming a school.”

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-80th District) co-authored a Legislature-approved bill to remove vestiges of slavery and the Confederacy from public facilities.

But the measure recently was vetoed by Gov. Brown on grounds that such decisions should be made locally.

Gonzalez hopes the Lee school will be renamed for the late Archie Buggs, a San Diego police officer who grew up in Paradise Hills and was murdered during a traffic stop in 1978.
"I think it's time. Clearly, 1959, we know that's in the heart of a rebellion against school desegregation,” Gonzalez said in the “Politically Speaking” Q&A session. “And you know, we would never consider naming a school after Robert E. Lee, so why do we continue to have one?"

The votes of the school community -- current staff, families and students of Lee Elementary -- will be weighted 2 to1 residents in the final tabulation of all votes from within the San Diego Unified District.

If renaming is recommended when the results are revealed at a Dec. 2nd community forum, the process turns to the School Names Committee and then the Board of Trustees.

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