SAN ANTONIO – The North East Independent School District board of trustees voted to change the name change of Robert E. Lee High School on Tuesday night.
The issue was put on the agenda for a special board meeting. Because it was a special board meeting, comments from the public were not allowed.
The meeting began at 5:30 p.m. and trustees went into executive session to discuss the topic.
"The board is aware of the petitions on both sides,” Aubrey Chancellor, district spokeswoman, said before the vote. "They've been informed all the while, phone calls, emails. They're in the loop and they have a good handle on how the community feels."
The issue was considered during the 2015-2016 school year, but in a 5-2 vote, the board voted to keep the school’s name at the time.
Board members became emotional as they discussed their decision. Member Brigitte Perkins said she felt bullied to vote against her conscience, pointing to numerous hateful emails received on both sides of the isle. She said most people were in favor of keeping the name.
Outgoing board member Sandi Wolff raised the motion for the name change.
“There’s no winners in this situation, but the students spoke very loudly,” Wolff said.
The unprecedented move may change the future for the district.
“They are setting the standard for other schools to follow the same thing. We want to see a change in any other school. This could be the framework that will make it happen,” Wolff said.
The district does not know how much the name change will cost. It will begin discussing the process of the change in September. There is no timeline for when it will be done.
Alumna Leslie Wilson is against the change and said she will continue to support the students, but to her, the school will always be Robert E. Lee High School.
“I’m very disappointed they catered and gave into the opposition that's overcoming our city,” Wilson said.
The school was built in 1958 and is one of the district’s oldest high schools. For decades, the school had the Confederate symbol on campus, but it was removed in 1991.
Current enrollment at the school is 2,700.