Last night, the Duval County School Board voted to change the names of six local schools that were named in honor of various Confederate figures – including Robert E. Lee High School, which will become Riverside High School.
The six schools – Joseph Finegan Elementary, Kirby-Smith Middle, J.E.B. Stuart Middle, Stonewall Jackson Elementary, Jefferson Davis Middle, and Robert E. Lee High – were each voted on separately, but the result was the same each time: a 5-2 vote in favor of renaming. Lori Hershey and Charlotte Joyce were the two votes against renaming each time. The board also voted to retain the names of Andrew Jackson High, Jean Ribault High, and Jean Ribault Middle.
The board’s votes fell in line with the recommendation of DCPS Superintendent, Dr. Diana L. Greene, and marked the culmination of nearly a year of petitioning and public voting on the matter – though many in the local community have advocated for the changes for years.
As mentioned, Robert E. Lee High School will be renamed Riverside High School. The school was named in honor of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in 1928 – 63 years after the end of the Civil War and 58 years after his death.
Kirby-Smith Middle School, named for Confederate general Edmund Kirby-Smith 58 years after the end of the Civil War, will become Springfield Middle School. Jefferson Davis Middle School will be renamed Charger Academy; the school was built in 1959, 94 years after the Civil War ended. Stonewall Jackson Elementary will become Hidden Oaks Elementary. It was built and named in 1965, a full century after the end of the Civil War.
J.E.B. Stuart Middle will be renamed Westside Middle School, and Joseph Finegan Elementary will become Anchor Academy.
Funding for the name changes will come from a combination of private donations and school board budget funds, with private donors making up the bulk of the contributions. The changes are expected to take effect in August, prior to the start of the new school year.