Posted on June 10, 2005

Voters Want Change of School’s Name

Patrick Hoge, San Francisco Chronicle, June 2

Parents, students and teachers at Jefferson Elementary have approved changing the school’s name to Sequoia Elementary because the nation’s third president owned slaves.

Students at the school, named for Thomas Jefferson, voted 161 to 111 in favor of the name change, the staff voted 11 to 5 in favor, and parents and guardians voted 67 to 61 in favor.

The Berkeley Unified School District board must approve a change and is expected to consider the issue this month, district spokesman Mark Coplan said. The cost of the change would be minimal, he said.

Debate over the name of the school, which has 305 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, has gone on for more than two years after several teachers, including an African American mother of three former Jefferson students, said Jefferson’s moniker offended them.