JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The controversial name of a local high school is being debated in a town hall meeting at Mandarin High.
"A name defines the essence of what something is," said local father Ty Richmond.
Richmond doesn't want his children educated in a district that boasts a high school named after an alleged founding member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Passionate pleas to rename Nathan B. Forrest High is a local issue gaining national attention.
Richmond has an online petition peddling heated public opinion. According to change.org, more than 117,000 people support a name change.
"I'm surprised it went as big as it did, as fast as it did," said Richmond.
Calls for change fueled this response from a high-ranking member of Missouri-based Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The letter urges school board members to "take a decisive stand to protect the name of the school based on the true historical facts surrounding this valiant man of honor."
The issue is expected to overshadow district budget discussions at Mandarin High Thursday night.
"I understand that this is a concern for a lot of people in the community, so it would be unreasonable to expect it not to come up," said school board member Jason Fischer, who is hosting the town hall meeting.
The district is no stranger to the debate. In 2008, the school board voted 5-2 to keep the same name.
Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said he has no problem with change, as long it goes through the proper channels.
Armed with signatures from tens of thousands of supporters, Richmond remains hopeful the letters at Forrest High will come down.
"I believe it's not only going to lead to actual change in the school system but also in the community itself," said Richmond. "There's going to be more unity."
The school board recently agreed to spend about a month gathering public opinion from people in the community before making a decision to change the school's name.