UPDATED: Lanier MS gets reprieve from renaming — for now — until community is heard
By Charlotte Aguilar
UPDATE: HISD trustees voted 5-4 Thursday night to initiate the process of renaming four schools — Lee High School (originally known as Robert E. Lee HS), Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, Henry Grady and Richard Dowling middle schools — whose namesakes had ties to the Confederacy.
At the request of Jolanda Jones — in her first meeting as trustee representing Lanier Middle School — the Houston ISD board has delayed consideration of renaming the campus until she can conduct a community meeting on the matter. Jones had been sworn in only about six hours earlier.
UPDATE: She later said that she would work with the principal and PTO at Lanier to hold the gathering before next month’s Board of Education meeting on Feb. 11.
The board also honored the requests of Trustees Anna Eastman to postpone consideration of changing the names of Jefferson Davis and John Reagan high schools in her district and of Mike Lunceford, who represents Johnston Middle School, until they can also gauge community sentiment about the prospective name changes.
Eight HISD schools in all were part of a resolution to remove names of “prominent Confederate leaders” from campuses as part of an updated district naming policy.
A number of those connected with the 90-year-old Lanier campus said his conscription as a private in the Confederacy should not outweigh his lifelong reputation in the arts, particularly as a poet.
Eastman and Lunceford said they were troubled by the short notice – less than a week – that the matter was being placed on this month’s agenda.
The board did vote 5-4 to defeat a motion by Trustee Harvin Moore to delay the entire resolution. The list of speakers who signed up to speak on the issue — as well as controversial agenda items including a change in the board ethics policy and how elementary students are disciplined – was 129. That prompted the board president to invoke a measure limiting remarks by each to one minute.