Posted on May 1, 2021

OPSB Approves 20 School Buildings to Be Renamed

Marta Jewson, The Lens, April 23, 2021

The Orleans Parish School Board approved a list of 20 school campuses to be renamed at its Thursday meeting — because they were found to be named for a slave owner, separatist or segregationist and must be renamed under a board policy passed last year.


And several members of the public who submitted comments on the vote argued that some of the schools on the list have transcended their namesakes and assumed their own identity, such as McDonogh 35. The first high school for Black students in the city was named for philanthropist John McDonogh — a slave owner — but has been highly regarded for its academics and alumni.


McDonogh 35 students and alumni have also asked that the school building be taken off the list.

But board members argued the facility naming policy does not give them any flexibility. The new language explicitly states that the board is “fundamentally opposed to retaining names of school facilities named for persons who were slave owners, confederate officials and segregation supporters.”

“The policy was clear — we don’t really have a choice without changing the policy,” member Katie Baudouin said.

The policy language was proposed in June of 2020, as a wave of protests swept the country in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin. {snip}

But the policy only affects school buildings. The charter groups whose schools are located in the district-owned buildings can continue to operate under names they choose, including McDonogh 35 Senior High School, the name of the school that operates in the new McDonogh 35 building on Cadillac Street. The distinction frustrated some members of the public.


While the board was in executive session at its virtual meeting, some attendees spoke out in the Zoom meeting’s chat.


“So Lusher keeps the name on the school program but the building name changes?? This is foolishness,” David Terrie wrote.

“These kids, white, black, whatever…DO NOT want the name of a white supremacist BRANDED across their backs, their chests not one more day,” Terrie wrote.

The same goes for teachers, Grant replied. “Some of which have made clear that they are leaving the school because of this. Our teachers should not have to walk through the doors or wear an ID tag with the name of a white supremacist on it.”