Dallas ISD renames schools with ties to Confederacy

Several Dallas ISD schools named after men with ties to the Confederacy were renamed Thursday night.

The latest round of school name changes come nearly three years after Dallas ISD stripped the names of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee from campuses. The schools voted on Thursday are not as well known for their ties to the Confederacy. 

The changes were approved unanimously Thursday night and without any dissent from those in attendance.

The district says the decision came largely from the community with parents, students and staff having a say in the current and future names.

"I couldn't be more proud of the students to do their diligence, learn their history, look at other options," said Dallas ISD Board President Justin Henry.

The school community started the process to change the name, researching some possible alternatives and had a school-wide election to choose a new name.

John Ireland Elementary, soon to be named Sylvia Mendez Crew Leadership Academy, is in Henry’s district. He says it is the community that discovered their school's namesake had voted for secession before serving in the Confederacy.

"John Ireland became an innovation school and took a different approach to instruction and through that process, some students, families and community members started researching the background of the name of the school and in the process learned things they did not think were acceptable, ties to the Confederacy," he said.

Henry says the school held an election to choose the new name.

"Sylvia Mendez, if you know anything about her history, her case was one of the predecessors for Brown vs. Board of Education and helped diversify all of public education," Henry said.

Dallas ISD trustee Ben Mackey represents two of the schools being renamed. John H. Reagan was also heavily involved in the secession movement.

"Reagan had overwhelming support for a name change to Bishop Arts STEAM Academy," he said.

Sidney Lanier was a Confederate soldier, but is better known for his poetry.

"There was a small community response around keeping it the same," Mackey said.

In the end the community settled on renaming the school after one of their own graduates.

"Jesus Moroles was a Dallas ISD student at Sydney Lanier and went on to become a world famous sculptor and artist," he said.

Mackey was glad to see so much community involvement in the process.

"I think it is past time, but the time is now," he said.

Some parents at John Reagan Elementary in Oak Cliff feel the change is a sign of progress.

"I’m happy about it," said parent Alyssa Wood. "It’s a change we needed."

"I think it’s good for the community with everything growing," said parent Macario Robles. "I’m pretty familiar with change, so I think it’s great for Oak Cliff."

But not everyone feels the name changes are necessary.  

"I personally don’t see why they should," said parent Bryan Rivera. "I get the history behind it, but you gotta remember at the time it was acceptable."

RELATED: Dallas ISD votes to rename four schools with Confederate ties