Community attends 1st set of discussions to rename 9 DCPS schools

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Parents, students and neighbors had the opportunity to meet at 4 Duval County Public Schools to share their opinions about the possible re-naming of nine schools.

School board members first started discussing the name change last summer.

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Board members tried to stagger meetings out at different schools and different times to allow for more people to attend.

Click here for a full list of meetings that will happen in February and March.

Action News Jax Courtney Cole spoke to students on both sides of the discussion.

“OK so, the system hates me— but I’m supposed to act like it’s OK, because they still glorify all of these people who contribute to that hate?” asked Zharia Bowles.

Bowles is a junior at Robert E. Lee High School, one of the 9 Duval County Public Schools up for name-change consideration.

“The school is full of so many people that would not have been accepted by Robert E. Lee himself,” Bowles said.

Of the nine schools, 6 of them are named after prominent figures of the Confederacy, including: Robert E. Lee, J.E.B (James Ewell Brown) Stuart, Edmund-Kirby Smith, Jefferson Davis, Joseph Finegan, Stonewall Jackson.

Previously, former Duval County School Board member Ashely Smith-Juarez said she wanted Jean Ribault and Andrew Jackson renamed because they are named after men who marginalized and killed indigenous people.

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Dylani Gousman, a senior at Lee High School, told Action News Jax Courtney Cole she’d rather see the school district focus on other needs.

“Mainly, I would like to see the school district put more time and energy into the school itself. Whether it be in sports, or academics, or the building itself,” Gousman explained.

Deyona Burton, the Senior Class President at Lee High School, said she believes education as a whole is constant progress, and progress means change.

She told Cole she is using her platform to get more students involved in the conversation about possibly renaming the schools.

“That doesn’t mean that nothing else is a priority, it doesn’t mean that nothing else is important, nor does that mean we’re not advocating for anything else. It’s just this, right now, is on the list of things that need to be tackled,” Burton said.

The community meetings are a part of step 3 of a nine-part process.

According to the school district’s time line, the school board will vote on the recommended names in May and June.

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One major concern for some is: How much could renaming a school cost?

The school district told Action News Jax it would cost a little over a million dollars, to rename all the schools.