The Austin Independent School District board isn't scheduled to make its final decision on a recommended new name for Robert E. Lee Elementary School until tomorrow, but the Austin Monitor's Courtney Griffin reported Tuesday that it's leaning strongly toward a favorite.
On Monday, the board considered three finalists for the new name, reported by the Austin-American Statesman on Monday:
• Russell Lee, after the University of Texas photography professor and a critically acclaimed Depression-era photographer. Lee was also a resident of the neighborhood. His work is archived at Center for American History at UT; some graces the school hallways.
• Bettie Mann, who was the first African-American teacher at Lee and spent 37 years at the campus. Her sons were the school’s first African-American students in the 1960s.
• Wheeler’s Grove was the site of Austin’s first Juneteenth celebrations and a public gathering space for African-Americans from the late 1860s to the early 1900s
According to the Monitor story, the board leaned heavily toward recommending Russell Lee for the school renaming. It will vote on its final recommendation at its meeting on Thursday.
After more than a year of protracted debate, the board voted in March to rename the school as part of a larger, citywide effort to remove certain monuments based on a Confederate legacy.
The process, reported KXAN-TV, involved a period of soliciting public input, which, not surprisingly, turned up absurd suggestions ranging from "Donald J. Trump Elementary" to the inevitable "Boaty McBoatface Elementary School" and "Schooly McSchoolerson." Russell Lee was the most popular viable name on the public's list.
An advisory group then considered the suggestions and recommended the three finalists to the board.
• AISD Trustees favor new Lee for Lee Elementary [Austin Monitor]
• Renaming of Robert E. Lee Elementary Moves Forward [Curbed Austin]