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Citizens sound off on school name changes

Citizens sound off on school name changes

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HANOVER -- A number of citizens expressed their displeasure with a recent decision by the Hanover County School Board changing the names of two county schools named for Confederate leaders at last week’s regularly scheduled Hanover County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Last month, school board members voted to retire and change the names of Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

A committee comprised of students, administrators, teachers, parents and at-large community members appointed by the school board is currently considering a list of names submitted to replace the old names. Mascots will be chosen at each campus, a process that involves administrators and students and does not require board interaction.

Old Church resident Andrew Morehead said the process used to rename the schools was less than inclusive, allegedly ignoring a large number of residents who could not access the meetings.

Hanover’s school board has been meeting virtually since April and residents can access the meeting via the internet or by phone. Public comments were received by email or phone, and many were read during the virtual meetings.

Even with those available lines of communication, Morehead said the process ignored the wishes of many Hanover residents.

“What I have for the board today is the abomination committed by the school board, Morehead said. “It was alluded to, basically, and led me to believe in layman’s terms, that God Almighty was the only one with any domain over the appointed school board.”

“You all control the purse strings. That’s my suggestion to you as the board of supervisors unless you don’t want to listen to your constituency,” Morehead continued.

He said many residents in his community are unable to access meetings via computer either due to their age or the inability to access WiFi in those areas.

“How many of the more mature folks who are constituents of yours do not have the capability? You’re ignoring the majority of your constituents that are tax-paying multi-generational families of this county,” Morehead said. “The only input you’re getting on this are from the millennials and screaming liberals,” he continued.

“My suggestion to you that if the school board wants to change the names, because the residents clearly did not … that you let the school board under what you’ve already allotted them in the budget try to figure out how to rob Peter to pay Paul to pay for it and then they are going to end up looking like Peter, Paul and Mary.”

Morehead is the public information officer for a group called Voice of Virginia, a collection of Hanover residents formed, according to a press release, to “give a public voice to those who otherwise would not have one, specifically, children and the aged who are at the mercy of, as a generalization, a flawed Guardian Ad Litem system designed to, supposedly, have their best interest in mind.”

The group filed a complaint earlier this month against the school board with the Hanover County Circuit Court asking them to intervene in the name-changing process.

Among other violations, the filing alleges the school board made the decision to change the names without consent from the board of supervisors. The complaint asked the court to overturn or reverse the recent decision by the school board.

In a press release earlier this week, Morehead said, “In closing, it is extremely unfortunate that ‘We The People’, due to lack of intestinal fortitude by the vast majority of elected and appointed government officials, have to fund complaints and petitions in the court systems to have our collective voices heard to peacefully combat the Marxist movement that threatens the very existence of our civilized form of government.”

At last week’s meeting, Morehead was joined by several speakers who echoed similar sentiments.

Alan Glass questioned the legitimacy of outside groups entering Hanover County and dictating policy regarding school names.

“It’s wrong to let an organization come into this county and dictate how we spend our tax dollars on changing the names of those schools,” Glass said.

Glass alluded to a 2018 survey where a majority of residents voted against the name changes. “It’s time to take another vote and rewrite the wrong that’s been done,” Glass said.

William Barnett told supervisors there is no guarantee in the U.S. Constitution that protects the right not to be offended.

He also suggested that students be forced to demonstrate that the name change would improve grade point averages. “If it doesn’t, let them pay for the changes,” he said. “I think it’s a bunch of bull and we’re being pushed around by a bunch of people who do not pay taxes in this county to start with.”

Donnie Goodman said funds being allocated to change the names could be better used in other educational pursuits, and expressed a concern that history should not be erased.

Kimberly Thurston noted the lack of funding currently facing Hanover schools, and said those funds should not be depleted by costs associated with the name changes.

“Make the ones who have called for and emailed to change the school names pay for them,” Thurston said. “A majority of your taxpayers did not vote for this school name change and it should be put to a vote by those citizens.”

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