School Board Presents Choices for Name of New Clarksburg School

School Board Presents Choices for Name of New Clarksburg School

Options highlight work of black women who advocated for equality

| Published:

The Montgomery County Board of Education meets Tuesday afternoon in Rockville.

Caitlynn Peetz

Three of the four names being considered for a new Clarksburg elementary school are those of black women who advocated for equality in the last century.

The $32 million school, now called Clarksburg Village Site No. 2, is scheduled to open in the fall with seats for 741 students.

The school board’s selection will be the first since the president of the County Council called for the name of a Silver Spring middle school to be changed because it is that of a Montgomery County man who has been labeled “an unrepentant segregationist” for land zoning policies he implemented.

Last month the school board ordered a staff review of all existing to ensure they are “appropriate.”

At its Tuesday meeting, the school board met behind closed doors and later publicly released a short list of names: Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School, Harriet R. Tubman Elementary School, Clarksburg Village Elementary School and Ida B. Wells Elementary School.

School board staff said it is common practice for early discussions about school facility names to be done in closed session, because personnel or personal information about people who are still living and named candidates could arise during discussions.

The school system maintains a “master list” of names and titles suggested by community members for school facility names during previous naming processes, some of whom are still living and have ties to the school district.

School-level and future school board discussions about the school’s name will be done in open session.

The school system’s facility naming policy says special emphasis should be placed on memorializing deceased women who made a “significant impact” on a local, state or national level.

Mary McLeod Bethune was a black educator and activist who started a private school in Florida for black students in the early 1900s, and she served as an adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. McLeod Bethune was born in 1875 in South Carolina and died in 1955.

Harriet Tubman, who was born a slave in Maryland, was a political activist and abolitionist who made several trips on the Underground Railroad to rescue about 70 people from slavery in the 1800s.

Ida B. Wells was born into slavery in 1862 in Mississippi before becoming a journalist, teacher and a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The names will be sent to the school’s principal for consideration. The principal, Yolanda Allen and the school’s “naming committee” of community members and staff, will consider the names and return the names in priority order, and up to two alternates, to the school board for a final decision.

The naming process is the first since Council President Nancy Navarro recommended the school board rename Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School. Navarro said Lee’s history implemented racist housing policies that prevented minorities from buying or renting homes in suburbs.

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

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