TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - On Sunday, the Tyler ISD board president made an announcement concerning possible name changes for the district’s two flagship high schools.
“This afternoon we’ll be calling for and posting notice of a special meeting of the board of trustees of Tyler ISD, with one agenda item,” said Wade Washmon, the Tyler ISD board of trustees president. “To discuss and take action on adjusting the names of both of our flagship high schools, Robert E. Lee and John Tyler.”
This was the announcement made at a Sunday afternoon news conference.
“Let me be very clear to my community. The decision to address both high schools has everything to do with objectivity and unity, which is why I’m requesting a vote on both schools at the same time,” said Washmon. “Should a vote to change the names occur, we’ll then address the process of re-naming.”
Community members behind the fight for the name change said they’re pleased with the school board’s decision to take a vote.
“It was great for them to step in and say we heard from the community and now we’re going to take it and vote on it,” said Kilton McCracken, an East Texas pastor. “Both names definitely should be changed and I think the school board is taking the right action by putting both of them on the agenda. I don’t think that’s going to impede the movement that’s happening right now, I think it’ll help it and I think it’ll pass.”
In Washmon’s statement he mentioned the same criteria must be used for both schools.
“Although Robert E. Lee High School has sparked the debate, and garnered much attention, if we apply the same set of criteria used to justify the consideration of changing it, we must also objectively apply the same criteria to John Tyler,” said Washmon. “Who never contributed on a local level, but did contribute and serve on the congress of the confederacy, whose troops were commanded by Robert E. Lee.”
“If president Washmon is saying we need to use those standards, then we need to look directly straight at Hubbard because they would fall under the same standards,” said Laura Owens, the mother of Trude Lamb; a REL senior who wrote a letter to the board saying she would no longer wear the school’s name on her jersey. “Richard Hubbard, the governor of Texas; he falls under the same standards. I don’t know if president Washmon was opening up for all of our confederate themed schools but his message was very encouraging.”
Washmon said he hopes to move past this issue, collectively.
“It’s my hope that we can move forward, through, and from this issue in unison with a poised and rational demeanor,” said Washmon. “So we can turn our focus back to successful student outcomes.”
The public meeting takes place Thursday, July 16, at 6 p.m., at the Plyler Instructional Complex. Those who wish to speak during the public comment section will ve required to sign up in advance.