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Stuart High School as their predecessors for the past 58 years have done. They will instead go to Justice High School.

The Fairfax County School Board approved the new name in a 7 4 vote on Oct. 26, bringing an end to a polarizing debate that started in 2015 with a handful of Stuart students campaigning for change.

Proposed by Mason District representative Sandy Evans, Justice High replaces the moniker of a Confederate general that name change proponents argued alienated the school’s ethnically diverse student population by honoring the legacy of a man who fought to preserve slavery.

“It is important that our schools, in name and symbol, honor and value the diverse student population they serve today,” school board chair Jane Strauss said. Stuart because it could serve as a variation on former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood C. Marshall, whose name emerged as the second highest vote getter in a community poll conducted on Sept. 16.

School board members who supported Evans’s motion saw Justice High as a way to avoid mix ups with George C. Marshall High School, which is also in Falls Church, while acknowledging civil rights activist Barbara Rose Johns and World War II Army veteran Col. Louis G. Mendez Jr., two other individuals who garnered significant support in the community vote.

“This has been a long process, but at the end of the day, we did the right thing,” Evans said. “I feel that we did do the best thing for the name.”

The board directed Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Scott Brabrand and his staff to develop a plan for implementing the name change to Justice High that will be presented to the school board on Dec. 14. Stuart High School at length and proposed several substitute motions and amendments. 16 community vote.

As Brabrand told the board in a Sept. would cost $512,572 in comparison to the $800,620 expense that a complete name change would require.

In separate substitute motions, Schultz,
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who supported Wilson’s motion as well, suggested Barbara Rose Johns High School and Col. Louis G. Mendez Jr. High School as preferable to Justice.

All three motions for an alternative to Justice High School failed. Stuart, would have been the best choice of the suggested individuals for a school whose student body is nearly 55 percent Hispanic.

“Naming the school for Col. Mendez would have been an authentic option for healing for the JEB Stuart students and members of the surrounding community,” the Springfield District representative wrote in an Oct. 30 email to the Fairfax County Times. “The lost opportunity by this board is tragic.”

Schultz says she proposed Johns as the new name in response to an email she received that day from a member of the Fairfax County NAACP who had requested that the board seriously consider the Virginia civil rights pioneer’s name. “I understood the frustration behind his request, which was reasonable and felt it needed to be part of our discussion that evening.”

Evans says that she decided on Justice High as the best option for her main motion after extensive conversations with her fellow board members. Stuart High School in a 7 2 vote on July 27, the successful motion written by Evans explicitly requested that the community consider “Stuart High School” as the new name.

“The harmony that we thought could possibly develop with that one name, it didn’t happen,” Evans said. “[Justice] seemed like the best compromise that would get a majority support from the board.”

Many advocates of changing the name pushed for Johns, in part because Fairfax County currently does not have any high schools named after a person of color or woman.

As a high school student in Virginia’s Prince Edward County, Johns led a strike in 1951 to protest the poor conditions of her all black school in a case that ultimately became part of the Brown v. Board of Education decision that declared segregation unconstitutional.

“We believe Barbara Rose Jones would have sent a clearer and stronger message about inclusivity and appreciation for women and the ongoing struggle for equality on all fronts,” Fairfax County NAACP president Kofi Annan said in a statement from the organization, a prominent supporter of the “Change the Name” campaign. “Nevertheless, we commend Sandy Evans, Karen Keys Gamarra and the other school board members that voted in favor of this change. It is definitely a great symbolic gesture that the county hears and is responsive to our concerns.”

“Keep the Name” proponents say the board has forced a new school name on a community that largely had no desire for such a change, citing a survey conducted from May 12 to May 20, 2016 that found 56 percent of 3,
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500 respondents did not support a change compared to the 35 percent who did.