Denton ISD revotes on name change for Robert E. Lee Elementary

Denton ISD board members are voting to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School.

However, there's a twist — the council already renamed the school last month. But it did so without public involvement and without putting it on the agenda.

The school board decided to revote on the school’s name change after criticism for making the decision without the public knowing about it.

The handful of people who spoke to the Denton school board supported it's vote last month to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School. But some wish there would have been public comment then instead of now.

Tuesday night was the first time trustees heard public comment about removing the Confederate general's name from the school and renaming it Alice Moore Alexander Elementary after an educator whose service to the district spans four decades.

When the board voted in November, there was no mention of Robert E. Lee, Alice Alexander or renaming the school on the agenda. Some have even questioned whether any open meetings laws may have been broken.

The district spokesperson says the board didn't specifically call for public comment or plainly state it on the agenda because the renaming policy didn't require them to.

"I think the district is committed to being open with our community,” said Julie Zwahr with Denton ISD. “And so they want to continue to build the public's trust, which is why it's on the agenda tonight to allay any question about this particular case or any particular cases"

There have been similar actions in other North Texas cities cutting ties with the Confederacy. Most were thoroughly vetted in public meetings and open session discussions, often times, months before a final decision was made.

Anthony Sims, Mrs. Alexander's minister, says he would have loved to talk about it in a public forum since he was the one who submitted her name in the first place.

"I think it should be an open, a public thing where people can hear about it can talk about it, discuss it,” he said.

If there was anyone who didn't support the name change, the did not show up to the board meeting Tuesday night or in November.

The board can move to amend its renaming policy. It would be voted on during a future meeting.

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