The Central Unified school board will once again attempt to bridge community divisions over the renaming of the neighborhood school formerly known as James K. Polk Elementary.
The results of a recent district survey show that there is still a lot of support in the community for keeping Polk’s name at the school, even though the administrators shot that down at their last board meeting.
Polk Elementary School, with 259 responses, was the No. 1 name among the 758 survey responses.
The second highest was Maria Moreno Elementary, with 177 responses. Maria Moreno was the first female farm worker to be employed as a labor organizer in the U.S., and her appointment was made by Malachi Suarez, an incoming sixth-grader whose fourth-grade GATE project about Polk’s racist history as a slave owner sparked the movement to close his school. to rename .
Fifty-two respondents wanted to keep the original name of James K. Polk Elementary and nine suggested Polk Avenue Elementary.
Twenty-seven heeded the call from hosts from local radio stations calling for the Margaret Mims Elementary school to be named in honor of the retiring county sheriff.
A battle has erupted on social media, where Gina Sellers, a parent who tore up Malachi’s poster on Polk at his school and later apologized for her action, told a Facebook group for the Central Unified community that Maria Moreno’s name was “on a massive scale.” was marketed by a parent of activists and other organizations outside our district.”
The sellers’ mail contained the results of the survey, which are on Tuesday’s board agenda.
Malachi’s father, Gabriel Suarez, wants the board to consider a letter about Moreno and her contributions as a labor activist, written by Dr. Vicki L. Ruiz, Distinguished Professor Emerita of History and Chicano/Latino Studies at UC Irvine, as well as Malachi’s petition on change.org to change the name of the school that had 3,777 signatures as of Monday afternoon.
Both Sellers and Gabriel Suarez served on a council subcommittee that reviewed the district’s school names and mascots and then made a number of recommendations. The district also surveyed the community and held working group meetings to get community input.
Although the board instructed the district to investigate the community, administrators do not always abide by the results. An earlier poll on the renaming of Polk Elementary received overwhelming response to keep James K. Polk’s name, but the board voted 5-2 last month to remove his name from the school. The board also voted against naming the school Polk Elementary – after the street where it lives.
So while Polk, James K. Polk and Polk Avenue, “Lion Polk” and “Polkinley” received the most nominations together with 322, it seems unlikely that the trustees will reinstate Polk’s name.
A motion last month by board chairman Richard Solis to name the school Central Elementary, in honor of the district’s upcoming centennial, died for lack of a second. Central Elementary received a total of six nominations in the poll, half as many as Donald J. Trump Elementary and Dolores Huerta Elementary, who received 12 each.
Could the school district follow the example of the New York City school system, which uses a numbering system and names many schools? There are two nominations for Public School 1 on the poll list.
The school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday and will be held at Central East High School at the Performing Arts Center.