SAN ANTONIO - For two months the Northeast Independent School District has been trying to decide what to do about the name of Robert E. Lee High School. Next Monday that decision may finally reach its end.
NEISD asked the public for suggestions and got close to 2,500 submissions. However, 80 percent of them were deemed inappropriate.
"What really overshadowed the process was the very racist and inappropriate names we saw coming in," said NEISD spokesperson Aubrey Chancellor.
One of those names was Adolf Hitler, which appeared dozens and dozens of times. Not at all what the NEISD was looking for.
"An idea that was wholesome nature should reflect well on the school and could stand the test of time," Chancellor said.
Becky Smith has lived in the neighborhood a block from the school since 1975.
"I was very excited to walk right down the street to the corner and there was my high school," Smith said.
She said she finds the name change ridiculous.
"It just seems like someone is making an issue out of something that is a non-issue," Smith said.
We picked a few top entries that the district said were acceptable: Legacy of Excellence in Education, or LEE, North East ISD High School #015910001, and E=MC2 High School.
And the top 5 unacceptable ones:
- Schooly McSchool Face.
- Jar Jar Binks High School
- The Hillary Clinton School of Tolerance, Sunshine, and Leprechaun Arts.
- Make America Great Again
Regardless of what the name turns out to be, Smith said past graduates will always call it the same thing.
"We are always going to call it Robert E Lee because that's because that's what's on my diploma," she said. "I know I speak for Lee graduates through the years when I say that those who went to that school never thought of our school flag or namesake as representing racial prejudice or anti-black sentiment. We were not in favor of those things at all."
The school board will consider the matter at their regular meeting next Monday with the name change likely taking effect at the end of this school year.
"The name Robert E. Lee is inextricably bound up with our thoughts about our friends and classmates, teachers and school experiences, school pep rallies and athletic victories and on. That's what the name Robert E. Lee means to us," Smith said. "Changing the name of the school does not change history or right past wrongs."
"It's reminiscent of the way the city changed the name of the Chinese Sunken Gardens to the Japanese Sunken Gardens during WWII. The name change lasted for a time, but now the city has chosen wisely to go back to the original name of Chinese Sunken Gardens," Smith pointed out. "These name change decisions are made in the heat of the moment by emotional people who don't take the long, historical view of things."