Final public input on Forrest name change

Board directs superintendent to survey stakeholders, make recommendation


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A small but passionate crowd turned out at Forrest High School on Tuesday night for the last in a series of public hearings on possibly changing the school's controversial name.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti and Duval County School Board members were there to hear community opinions on whether Forrest should be given a new name. Part of the discussion was a disagreement over whether Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest his relationship to the Ku Klux Klan.

Last month, after months of controversy that garnered national attention, the School Board voted unanimously to initiate the renaming process by taking public input and survey students, alumni and people who live Forrest's attendance zone about the school's name.

Forrest opened in 1959 as an all-white school, and it remained segregated until 1966. More than 1,100 students now attend Forrest, and 57 percent of those are black, based on statistics posted at the end of the last school year.

Vitti has said he will be likely make a recommendation to the board Monday on the name change. If the board votes to proceed, a process to select a new name for the school would begin.

Schools, according to the current "Naming or Renaming Schools or School Facilities" policy, shall not be named for persons (living or deceased) or be in conflict with an existing school or district facility name.