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If the views expressed in the 1956 article in Commentary magazine didn’t fully represent former Albemarle County Schools Superintendent Paul Cale, current county School Board member Graham Paige said he assumed Cale would’ve asked for a correction or a retraction.
Paige said that was one of the reasons that led him to vote to rename Paul H. Cale Elementary School.
Of the seven board members, one, Jason Buyaki, voted in favor of keeping the name. David Oberg was not present at last week’s meeting, but according to a statement read by Chairman Jonno Alcaro, Oberg said he was in favor of renaming.
The process of whether to rename the school was set in motion in October 2018 after a presentation on segregation in American schools referenced the Commentary article, which, through extensive paraphrasing, stated that Cale argued against integration in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Cale served as superintendent from 1947 to 1967.
The board’s vote came after Superintendent Matt Haas took into consideration the input of a 12-person advisory committee tasked to investigate Cale’s legacy. The committee concluded that the name change was warranted.
I’m in favor [of] considering not naming any of our schools for people.Kate Acuff , School Board Member
Among several findings, the committee said Cale aimed to improve education during his tenure, didn’t speak against segregation or try to integrate schools faster and the school board at the time was against segregation.
In last week’s School Board meeting, Paige questioned Cale’s relationship with the board at the time. He said he couldn’t imagine any board selecting a superintendent whose values and expectations didn’t align with theirs.
“Mr. Cale’s name does not deserve to be on [one of our schools]” Paige said.
Board member Kate Acuff said she has no doubts there were many accomplishments made during Cale’s tenure; however, she’s not in favor of memorializing that time. Naming schools after people can be an issue in that the concept is heavily tilted towards white men, she said, so the division should attach a name to the school that reflects the aspirations of students.
“I’m in favor [of] considering not naming any of our schools for people,” Acuff said.
At the last board meeting, Haas said if the board accepts his recommendation to rename the school, the advisory committee would reconvene with the Cale community to develop recommendations for a new school.
In addition to Cale Elementary, Haas has been asked to review all 14 school buildings with namesakes and the division’s existing policy on naming school buildings.
Because the process to investigate Cale Elementary was lengthy, Haas offered a streamlined process that would combine the decision to change the name with a selection of a new name and including the existing name in the pool.
Haas estimated it would take about a decade to go through all 14 schools without his proposed changes.