The Duval County School Board decided unanimously to rename Nathan Bedford Forrest High School on Jacksonville's Westside at a meeting last night. The change comes after nearly two months of community debate and discussion about the issue.
"We recognize that we cannot and are not seeking to erase history," said board member Dr. Constance Hall. "For too long and too many, this name has represented the opposite of unity, respect, and equality."
Prior to the school board's vote, surveys were tallied from a variety of stakeholders. The school's PTA, SAC and student body were strongly in favor of the change, while alumni and the surrounding community were strongly opposed. The faculty was nearly split.
The school district will survey those same groups this week for a recommendation on a new name. The name Westside High School has been spoken of, and the name Valhalla High School was the name originally selected by half of the student body for the school when it was opened, prior to the Forrest name being chosen. Superintendent Nikolai Vitti expects the name to be put up for a vote at the board's regularly scheduled January meeting.