RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Henrico County School Board is studying whether to rename a middle school named for an architect of policies that aggressively pushed back against court-ordered integration in the 1950s and 1960s.
The board on Thursday directed county Superintendent Patrick C. Kinlaw to look into the financial impact of changing the name of Harry F. Byrd Middle School after several people spoke in favor of the change, The Washington Post reported (http://wapo.st/1NsH2bo ).
Kinlaw was asked to estimate the cost of replacing uniforms and the outdoor marquee, and repainting the walls and gym floors if Byrd's name were to be erased.
Byrd, a former state senator and governor, signed on to the Southern Manifesto opposing the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education ruling that struck down school segregation. He later spearheaded the Massive Resistance movement, an umbrella term that included policies and legal maneuvering to prevent black children from entering white schools.
An online petition has recently drawn hundreds of supporters calling for Byrd Middle School's name to be changed.
"Our role is to be very thoughtful and deliberative as we go forward with an issue," said Lisa Marshall, the board member who represents the middle school. "This is a very important issue."
Andy Jenks, a spokesman for the school district, said he looked at the minutes from the time of the board's 1966 decision to name a school after Byrd, but they revealed little about why Byrd was chosen. The middle school opened in 1971, five years after Byrd's death.
"It's hard to say what they were honoring (when officials chose the name)," said Melissa McKenney, whose daughter attends Byrd Middle School. "But they named an educational institution after a man who fought to keep children who were not white out of that school."
Information from: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com