First public hearing held for Hampton’s Confederate named schools

HAMPTON, Va. – The Hampton School Board heard from dozens Thursday night regarding the removal of Confederate names at two schools.

The schools in question are Jefferson Davis Middle School and Performance Learning Center at Campus Lee.

The Hampton chapter of the NAACP and the Peninsula chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said schools honoring confederate leaders represent hate, segregation, slavery, and the KKK.

Both organizations have been trying to get the names changed for more than a year.

Inside the City of Hampton School Board's policy manual, it states that elementary and middle schools are named in honor of people who have shown outstanding service to mankind and their community.

However, Gaylene Kanoyton, the president of the Hampton Chapter of the NAACP, said the two school names don’t meet that criteria.

"Davis and Lee does not represent outstanding service of mankind. They supported slavery," said Kanoyton.

Last year, the school board voted unanimously against changing the names.

Frank Earnest of the Sons of Confederate Veterans thinks that decision should stand.

"Robert E. Lee didn’t really believe in secession. He didn’t believe in slavery," said Earnest. “He gave up everything to defend Virginia and that’s the example we don’t want our children to learn?”

Supporters worry about the cost required to change the names, which the school board says will be between $20,000-$30,000, and feel the focus should be on the students and their education.

A second hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, November 8 at Hampton High School.

According to the school district’s policy manual, the board reserves the right to make the final decision regarding the name of any school or school facility.

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