NEISD approves new name for Lee high school

Lee High School (SBG San Antonio)

The Northeast Independent School District board of trustees voted Monday night to change the name of Robert E. Lee High School.

The board voted 5-2 in favor of replacing Robert E. Lee High School with the Legacy of Educational Excellence (L.E.E HS) beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

Shannon Grona, president of the NEISD school board, said the cost to the district could have been "extensive" depending on the name change.

“The marquee, signs around campus, the end zone, all of the athletic uniforms, dance, cheer and band uniforms, etc," Grona said. "As a trustee, it is our responsibility to be fiscally responsible. We can minimize the number of things that need to be changed at the school.”

NEISD received 2,443 online suggestions from the community to help rename the high school. Only 542 submissions (22 percent) from the public met criteria before the school board ultimately decided on the new name. A district spokeswoman said many of the 1,901 submissions that did not meet the criteria contained "offensive and inappropriate references, such as profanity and racially charged statements."

The school board voted 5-2 to keep the school's name back in 2015 when the issue first surfaced. Two years later the board flipped its stance and voted to unanimously change the name in August after James Alex Fields slammed his car into a group of counter-protesters at a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The school board called the decision a "no-win situation."

"We're in a very different time than two years ago," said board member Sandi Wolff in August. "Our students are different. Our environment is different and we want to be reflective of that."

People in favor of the name change said it's time to distance the school from the Confederate general. Opponents said the name is about cultural pride rather than overt racism.

District officials will now work on deciding colors and the mascot in future meetings.

The current name will remain in place for the 2017-18 school year.

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