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AISD Board of Trustees changes Robert E. Lee Elementary to Lee Elementary

AISD Board of Trustees vote to change Robert E. Lee Elementary School to Lee Elementary, taking off the "Robert E."(Photo by Kendra Hall ABC 7).

Amarillo Independent School District (AISD) Board of Trustees members made a controversial decision Monday over the renaming of Robert E. Lee Elementary in Amarillo.

A big crowd turned out for the meeting to see the outcome and share their opinion on the issue before the board voted.

The crowd was so large that they had to use the overflow room because standing room was limited.

Opinions were sharply divided and after the board voted, the majority of the room left the meeting disappointed.

The elementary school in north Amarillo was named after famous confederate general, Robert E. Lee. Monday night, it was changed to just "Lee Elementary" with a 4-3 vote, leaving supporters of a name change disappointed that it is still named after a confederate general.

"I asked members of the community and you hear little children talk about: 'well I go to the slave school, I go to the school with the civil war leader's name on it,'" said David Lovejoy, Amarillo Branch NAACP Vice President. "This building represents the worst of America."

The meeting was filled mainly with people wanting the name to change entirely. Most said they wanted it to be changed to Park Hills after the neighborhood the school is in. Others voiced their opinions on keeping the name.

"It's been that name since 1952 and hasn't caused any problems until all this stuff starting happening around the country and I believe they're just stepping on the bandwagon," said Michael Bateman, in support of keeping the name Robert E. Lee.

AISD Board of Trustees members said their main responsibility is serving the children, but that this is an important conversation in the community.

"We're in the business of educating children," said Jim Austin, AISD Board of Trustees President. "That's our primary business and getting caught up in the name of a school is not the mission. The mission is educating children."

Three board members voted to change the name entirely.

"Even though we refer to that school as Lee Elementary, everybody knows what that name represents and I represent a name change, but I do not represent changing it to Lee," said John Betancourt, AISD Board of Trustees Member.

The board did not say what the next steps will be. There are only two Robert E. Lee signs left at the school -- one on the marquee and another on the front of the building.

They do plan to eventually take the "Robert E." off.


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