Albemarle County Public Schools could soon review the names of its school buildings and change those that are “inconsistent with the [school division’s] values.”
School Board Chairwoman Kate Acuff proposed a review of school naming policies and building names after racist comments by the late Paul H. Cale— Albemarle’s longest-serving superintendent and the namesake of Cale Elementary School— resurfaced in a historical lecture at Thursday’s school board meeting.
Lorenzo Dickerson, a web and social media specialist for the school division, spoke about the educational experience of African Americans in Albemarle County from emancipation to desegregation. Dickerson has produced several documentary films on this subject, including “Albemarle’s Black Classrooms.”
Dickerson’s presentation referenced a 1956 story in “Commentary” magazine about Virginia’s resistance to integration following the Supreme Court’s school desegregation decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
In the story, Cale was quoted as saying that Albemarle’s white parents “would not permit their children to receive instruction from inferior Negro teachers- and they were inferior.” Cale added that if integration were to be enforced, parents would withdraw their children and cease paying school taxes.
“This is the essential strategy of massive resistance, which was formally born in Virginia only months before this article appeared,” Acuff said. “We should not revere or celebrate these viewpoints nor preserve them in perpetuity in the names of public buildings.”
Acuff made a motion to direct Superintendent Matt Haas to review the division’s current policy on the naming of school buildings and facilities “for the purpose of adding school values to the criteria,” and to report back to the School Board within six months with any recommendations for changing the names of schools.
Acuff’s motion will be included in the consent agenda of the School Board’s next work session on Oct. 25.