JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Students, teachers, alumni, parents who are PTA members and people in the community began voting Monday on whether to change the names of four local schools. It’s the final phase of the public balloting process and includes the school that has gotten the most attention, Robert E. Lee High School.
Monday marked the first day of a two-week voting period that gives people with ties to the schools the opportunity to be heard, whether they want to change the name or preserve it. Those in favor of renaming the schools are given the option to choose from a range of new names based on pre-determined options.
The four schools are Robert E. Lee High School, Andrew Jackson High School, Jean Ribault High School and Jean Ribault Middle School. Polling places at each school are open until 6:30 p.m.
The process is not open to the general public. Only students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents who are PTA members and people who live in the school’s attendance zone are eligible to cast ballots. But as News4Jax learned Monday, many people eager to weigh in were unaware they could vote multiple times if they fell into multiple categories.
The district is allowing people who are included in multiple stakeholder groups to have a ballot for each group that applies to them. So, for instance, if you’re a teacher at the school, you live in its attendance zone and you’re an alumnus, you would be eligible to vote not once, not twice but three times.
RELATED: How balloting for local schools’ names works
Choices on the ballot
|Robert E. Lee High School||Andrew Jackson High School|
|Option 1||Avondale High School||Eastside High School|
|Option 2||Legacy High School||Main Street School of Advanced Technology|
|Option 3||Riverside High School||Springfield High School|
|Option 4||School No. 33||Springfield High School of Advanced Technology|
|Option 5||Keep current name||Keep current name|
News4Jax spoke with Pauline Carter and her daughter, Joyce Harmon, after they had cast their ballots. Carter, who graduated with the Lee High School class of 1977, said she originally intended to vote in favor of keeping the name as is. But, she said, she had a change of heart.
“I’m a Christian and in the flesh, I really did want to fight for the Robert E. Lee name,” Carter told News4Jax. “But the Bible tells us that we are to respect everybody’s beliefs and not cause anybody to stumble. So I decided that, if it would please everybody, it’s not the same school I went to 70 years ago. It’s a new school now and new people here and they need to decide what name they need to go by.”
Carter’s daughter voted the opposite way. Despite that, they both respect one another’s decision.
“We just admire each other for standing up for what we believe,” Harmon said.
FAMILY TIE | Pauline Pinner Carter, 87, graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in 1951. Her daughter, Joyce Carter...Posted by Joe McLean on Monday, April 26, 2021
Once the voting period closes and the canvassing board meets to determine the status of any provisional ballots, the results of each school’s election will be released.
The next step in the months-long naming process to for Superintendent Diana Greene to make her recommendation to the Duval County School Board, which makes the ultimate decision on the school names. Despite the voting process, the School Board has reserved the right to change the name or not change it, even if one option wins the tally.
Community balloting has already wrapped up at five of the nine total schools involved in the name change process in Duval County.