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Dozens attend Duval School Board meeting as name change debate continues

There was a long line of people to get in to Tuesday night's meeting.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens of people flooded the Duval County School board meeting Tuesday evening, taking the name change fight to the decision makers.

The overflow room was also packed.

The vast majority of speakers came to the mic during the public comment section of the meeting, arguing for or against the renaming of nine Duval County school buildings named after controversial figures.

A total of 57 people signed up to speak.

The comments made echoed what’s been said over the past few weeks as the schools, including Robert. E Lee High School, have held community input meetings.

But on Tuesday night, the comments were made directly to the School Board, which will ultimately make the decision whether to rename the schools this year.

Ahead of the meeting, there was a rally outside DCPS headquarters. Ben Frazier, head of the Northside Coalition, which has strongly supported renaming the schools, called for the rally.

During the demonstration, a man stood in front of the speakers and held a Confederate battle flag. The rally, however, remained peaceful.

Additionally, a group of five people showed up, some holding signs that read: “Keep the Robert E. Lee school name.”

Of the nine schools, Lee High School has gained the most public interest when it comes to a potential name change. On Monday night, a committee proposed four alternative names. Constituents will later vote on a preferred name, which will be submitted to the school superintendent.

Frazier had also joined a demonstration earlier in the morning outside the Lee High School campus.

Others disagree with the move to rename the school, saying that Lee High has too much history. A group of alumni formed a committee to oppose the renaming.

Six of the schools under consideration for renaming honor Confederate Civil War leaders and the other three schools are named after leaders who perpetrated violence against Native Americans.

The results of the voting will be submitted to the superintendent in mid-May. The school superintendent will make a final recommendation on any name changes to the school board which will have the final say.

About the Authors:

McLean is a reporter with WJXT, covering education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.

At WJXT for a quarter of a century, Mary Baer anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news weekdays.