Posted on January 10, 2022

Seven Cleveland Schools, Some Named for Slaveholders, to Be Renamed

Courtney Astolfi,, December 30, 2021

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District is preparing to rename seven schools currently named for slaveholders and other historical figures over concerns of racially problematic pasts.

New names for five elementary buildings are expected to be in place for the 2022-2023 school year, after community meetings in January and February 2022 in which school administrators intend to get feedback from parents, students and others. The decisions are contingent upon school board approval.

The elementary schools to be renamed are:

*Albert Bushnell Hart (Broadway-Slavic Village)

*Louis Agassiz (West Boulevard)

*Luis Muñoz Marín (Tremont)

*Patrick Henry (Glenville)

*Thomas Jefferson PreK-12 International Newcomers Academy (Stockyards)

Two additional high schools are expected be renamed sometime in the future, but CMSD officials who spoke to and The Plain Dealer weren’t yet able to provide a timeline. They are John Marshall, in the Jefferson neighborhood, and James Ford Rhodes, in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood.

CMSD kicked off the renaming process earlier this year as part of the national reckoning over racial injustice sparked by the 2020 death of George Floyd. School officials were also spurred by two resolutions passed by Cleveland City Council in 2020 urging CMSD to change the names. The effort was spearheaded by Councilman Kevin Conwell, whose ward includes Patrick Henry, and backed by Councilman Brian Mooney, whose ward includes Louis Agassiz.

CMSD’s school board in July assembled working groups of staff, students and family members to determine new school naming criteria and identify existing schools named after figures who failed to live up to those standards, according to Michael Houser, policy and labor liaison, and Trent Mosley, chief strategy implementation officer.

CMSD also recruited an historian to provide historical backgrounds about each person for which a school is named.

The groups found seven schools with names that ought to be changed based on the the new naming criteria.

The groups identified 11 other schools for “possible additional review,” meaning the groups were torn on whether there was enough evidence in the person’s past that conflicted with the naming criteria.

The new criteria excludes schools from being named after people “who have a documented history of enslaving other humans, or have actively participated in the institution of slavery, systemic racism, the oppression … of people of color, women or other minority groups, or who have been a member of a supremist organization.”

Oppression is defined as “the inequitable use of authority, law, or physical force to prevent others from being free or equal.”


Conwell was elated when he spoke to after the December vote.

“We can’t have our children going to a school named for people who owned slaves, who owned Black people,” Conwell said. “Nowhere on this planet should you go to school where you’re honoring your oppressors.”