Dallas Independent School District trustees didn't plan to talk about its schools' names at Thursday night's board meeting, but it was on some parents' minds amid the national debate over Confederate monuments.
Five schools in the district are named after Confederate generals: John Reagan, Sidney Lanier, Albert Sidney Johnston, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.
"These names were specifically chosen to intimidate and exclude African Americans," Dallas ISD parent Mary Parrish said to board members when she stood to speak. "How would it feel to be a black child going to school that was named after a man that fought to keep your ancestors enslaved?"
Robert E. Lee Elementary School parent Adam Bazaldua said his only issue with the school is that its name "associates with an entire era of oppression."
He proposed renaming the five schools currently named for Confederate generals after the five police officers who died in last year's ambush in downtown Dallas.
Several parents from Robert E. Lee Elementary stood together, asking the district to change the names.
"These schools were not named as solemn reminders so that we could take a sober and honest look at a difficult past," said parent Mike Koprowski. "We can't keep saying, 'Yes, but not now.' Or, 'OK, but let's wait.'"
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Some pushed back on parents' unhappiness with the school names.
"White supremacists benefit from poverty and racism," Rich Sheridan said to board members. "Why don't we focus on that?"
Naming and renaming schools occurs when school is not in session, typically at the end of the school year, per Dallas ISD's policy.
The board will meet Sept. 14 to talk about potentially fast-tracking possible name changes.