School Board Facing Lawsuit After Restoring Names Of Confederate Leaders

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A Virginia school board is facing a lawsuit after they approved a proposal to restore the Confederate names of two of its schools.

On Tuesday (June 11), the Virginia chapter of the NAACP and five students filed a federal lawsuit against the Shenandoah County school board, alleging that the board created "an unlawful and discriminatory educational environment for Black students" by restoring the Confederate names, per NBC News.

“My belief is the Shenandoah County School Board reaffirmed their commitment to White supremacy and the celebration of a race-based rebellion against the United States of America with their vote to name public schools after military leaders of the Confederate States of America,” the Rev. Cozy Bailey, the president of the Virginia NAACP, said in a statement.

The lawsuit comes after the board decided in 2020 to change the names of schools linked to Confederate leaders Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Turner Ashby. The board initially stripped the Confederate names in the wake of George Floyd's murder and the nation's racial reckoning.

However, the conservative group Coalition for Better Schools petitioned against the renaming. “We believe that revisiting this decision is essential to honor our community’s heritage and respect the wishes of the majority,” the coalition wrote in a letter to the board in April.

Last month, the Shenandoah County school board voted 5-1 to reverse its 2020 decision and restore the Confederate names. Mountain View High School returned to the name Stonewall Jackson High School. Honey Run Elementary School went back to Ashby-Lee Elementary School.

Tuesday's lawsuit argues that the board violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Equal Education Opportunities Act through its decision.

“When students walk through the halls of renamed Stonewall Jackson High School and Ashby Lee Elementary School, they will do so with inescapable reminders of Confederate legacies that enslaved and discriminated against African-descended people. This community deserves better,” Bailey said in a statement.

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