2021 | Schools

Report about possibly renaming six schools delayed until 2022

Review is in response to petitions circulated last summer

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The Montgomery County Board of Education has delayed the due date for a report about whether six communities want to rename their schools by about a year, to 2022.

In October, the school board unanimously passed a resolution requiring the superintendent to work with the schools — Richard Montgomery High, Thomas S. Wootton High, Montgomery Blair High, Col. Zadok Magruder High, Francis Scott Key Middle and John Poole Middle — to “determine whether these communities have expressed an interest in renaming the schools.”

A report was due in May.

But because of challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the school board on Tuesday delayed the deadline for the report until spring 2022. A specific date was not given.

The six schools, along with Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School, were named in a 2019 report commissioned by the school board to determine which of its 208 schools are named after slave owners or people who “supported the institution of slavery.”

The board began the review of the six schools’ names after a flurry of petitions surfaced last summer, created largely by students, calling for renaming.

The petitions surfaced amid national outcry after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky. Petitioners asked the schools to be named in honor of people with less controversial pasts.

When the school board passed the resolution authorizing the review, board member Pat O’Neill acknowledged the petitions and said the school district “needs to cast a wider net” to determine the communities’ preferences.

If any of the communities favor renaming, the school board will determine whether to move forward with the process.
The school board has a policy addressing the naming of school facilities that says “it is preferred” that school facilities be named after “deceased distinguished persons who have made an outstanding contribution to the community, county, state or nation.” The board is advised to give strongest consideration to names of women and minorities.

Lee Middle School will be renamed Odessa Shannon Middle School in July, in honor of the first Black woman elected to public office in Montgomery County.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com