In an unanimous vote, the Falls Church school board made the decision to rename Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and George Mason High School.
The school board said its decision lines up with a recent survey it conducted among the staff and students of both schools, in which 56% of respondents voiced support for changing the names.
The respondents who supported changing the schools’ names claimed Mason and Jefferson’s history as slave-owners made minority students feel marginalized and uncomfortable attending school named after them, the school board explained.
The board took seriously the viewpoints and concerns raised by many students, parents, staff, and community members,” school board chair Greg Anderson said in a statement after Tuesday’s vote.
“We thank everyone who shared their perspectives with us and will be mindful of your comments as we now begin selecting names that reflect the diversity of opinions in our community,” he said. “Our schools must be places where all students, staff, and community members feel safe, supported, and inspired.”
During the vote, one school board member even claimed the only way to “live up to” Jefferson’s ideals is to not name anything after him.
Insane. Falls Church school board voted to take Thomas Jefferson’s name off of their school. A board member explains that that they have to make the move because of Trump, and because the best way to “live up to” Jefferson’s words is to “no longer have a school named after him”: pic.twitter.com/4oFAfP5I5f
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) December 9, 2020
There were many community members who opposed the name change, and said “the names should not be changed based on George Mason and Thomas Jefferson owning slaves because the was a norm at the time,” according to the school board.
Several respondents were also concerned the change would be a waste of school resources.