The St. Paul School Board voted six to one in favor of changing the name of a school honoring James Monroe, one of eight U.S. presidents who owned slaves while in office.
Despite objections from vocal alumni, Tuesday’s vote changed the school formerly known as Linwood-Monroe Arts Plus to Global Arts Plus. The name change was made in response to community members who wanted the name to reflect the school’s “arts-infused and diversity focus,” according to The Star Tribune.
Saint Paul Public Schools Director of Communications Kevin Burns told the Daily Caller News Foundation that parents came up with the idea of changing the school’s name.
“The process to arrive at this name began with the understanding and recognition that the name ‘Monroe,’ after slave-owner James Monroe, did not deserve such a place of honor–that such a name does not reflect the values and aspirations of our diverse school, our school of immigrants, our school where all are welcome and all come to experience the promise of the arts and of an education,” Burns said in an email.
It took more than a year and a half to decide on what to do with the school’s name. Students said Tuesday that the new name, Global Arts Plus, reflects the classmates who come from all over St. Paul and the world to attend classes, The Pioneer Press reported.
John Brodrick, the one school board member who voted against the name change, said it’s a “very significant and important move” to remove a president from the name of a school, according to The Pioneer Press.
Alumni who protested the name change believe that the school district didn’t follow policy in getting input from “broader alumni and community,” The Star Tribune reported.
Seven hundred people signed a petition to stop the name change, according to Al Hanzal, an alumnus of the school.
The name change will go into effect on July 1, Burns said.
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