EPISD moves to change Robert E. Lee school name, adopts year-round school calendar
EL PASO, Texas -- As controversial monuments and other signs of the Confederacy are removed across the country to reduce obstacles to racial harmony, one northeast El Paso school is moving towards a name change.
The El Paso Independent School District board voted 5-1 Tuesday to begin the process to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary School.
The board measure calls for holding a series of community meetings to seek input on a new name for the school.
Trustee Freddy Klayel-Avalos, who represents District 6, had pushed for a name change away from Robert E. Lee, who was the senior commander of the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
"It wasn't in our best interests, nor did it reflect our values to have a name of Robert E. Lee. Because had he had his way, all these students and employees would not be part of the district, would not have been educated, would have been slaves," he said.
Trustee Diane Dye, who represents the district were the school is located, was the lone "no" vote, having previously said she doesn't think her constituents want a name change.
"There's no confederate symbolism anywhere if anybody had take the time to go and see that school," Dye said.
Some of those who live near the school seemed to agree.
"I just think it shouldn't change because of everything that's happening now. It wasn't brought up years ago, so why now," said resident Amy Hernandez.
"I'm gonna miss the name, but if its better for the community then its fine," added Enrique Torres, another resident of the neighborhood.
Meanwhile, the EPISD board also voted Tuesday to approve a plan to switch over to a 'year-round' academic calendar.
The change will shorten the summer vacation, but also adds in breaks elsewhere for staff and students.
The Canutillo Independent School District adopted a similar measure already, and the Ysleta Idepdendent School District was scheduled to take up the concept on Wednesday.
The 'year-round' concept has been talked about by school districts in the past, but recently gained significant steam as a means to get things back on track following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Right now, both the El Paso and Canutillo districts are tentatively slated to start the new school year on Aug. 3, which is the anniversary of the El Paso Walmart shooting tragedy.