Robert E. Lee High School
Robert E. Lee High School is a high school at 1400 Jackson-Keller Road in San Antonio, Texas, named for the Confederate American Civil War General Robert E. Lee. An entity of the North East Independent School District, Lee opened in 1958. In the 2009-2010 school year, it had an enrollment of 2,239. On August 29, 2017, school district trustees voted unanimously to embrace the concept of political correctness and to delete General Lee's name from the school. No replacement name was immediately advanced, nor was funding for the name change readily available.
On October 9, 2017, the trustees voted 5-2 to use the name Legacy of Educational Excellence High School, or L.E.E HS, beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. The similarity in the new name reflects the board's attempt to keep down costs associated with the renaming. The trustees will have to sandblast the name "Robert E." or the full "Robert E. Lee High School" inscribed on the front of the building. Presumably many will continue to call the institution "Lee High School."
Lee is the home of three magnet schools, the North East School of the Arts, the International School of the Americas, and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, Academy.
The Class of 1973 erected a poster placed at the foot of the General Lee statue at the main entrance to the school. The inscription reads: "The education of a man is never completed until he dies." In 1991, Lee High dropped the use of the Confederate flag as its symbol.
In 2015, the NEISD trustees voted 5–2 to keep the name "Robert E. Lee" after liberals raised objections to honoring the late Virginia general, whose wife was a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington. In August 2017, Glanno Gomez, a 19-year-old from San Antonio, launched another online petition to rename Lee High School in the aftermath of the 2017 violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, which the national media largely attributed to white supremacists. At the same time as the Charlottesville clash on August 12, demonstrators gathered without violence at Travis Park in downtown San Antonio to seek the removal of the monument of an unnamed soldier dedicated to "Our Confederate Dead." At 2 a.m. on September 1, 2017, the city removed the statue in Travis Park, just hours after the city council authorized the action on a 9-1 vote.
On August 29, 2017, district trustees reversed the 2015 decision. Instead all seven trustees voted in special session hastily called without public input to drop the name. Sandi Wolff, who voted with the majority against the name change in 2015, said that the political climate had shifted since the previous vote. In a statement, the school district said that in light of recent events, "The board felt it was necessary to review the issue again."
The University of Texas, the state's flagship institution in the capital city of Austin, meanwhile removed without notice during the night several Confederate statues on campus. The Lee High School name also came under renewed fire. Kenny Strawn, president of the Lee High School Young Democrats club, said that a change in names is a priority for his group. Trustee Wolff said that the issue has opened the door for a "positive conversation" among Lee students.
Marie Anglin, a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News who attended Lee High School in the middle 1980s, said that she did not "remember such across-the-board interest in [Robert E.] Lee's contributions when I was in school." Anglin added, "It's clear that it's time to change the name. Aggrandizing a Confederate leader who's long gone and a historical narrative that has little to do with San Antonio isn't worth the division it is causing." Actually, Lee has a Texas connection: his first command of a fort for the United States Second Cavalry was from 1856 to 1857 at Camp Cooper in Throckmorton County, three hundred miles north of San Antonio. The large Robert E. Lee Hotel is located in downtown San Antonio and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for Bexar County.
In late September, the district trustees called for public input in selecting a new name for the school but suggested that the name should not be that of a person.
The trustees who voted to scrap General Lee from the school name are Letti Bresnahan (president) from District 6, Shannon Grona (vice president) from District 5, Sandy Hughey (secretary) from District 1, Brigitte Perkins from District 7, Jim Wheat from District 4, Edd White from District 2, and Sandi Wolff from District 3. Wolff is married to Moderate Republican Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff and the daughter-in-law of Democratic County Judge Nelson Wolff, a former mayor of San Antonio. All trustees serve four-year terms on a staggered basis.
In April 2018, it was announced that the new L.E.E. High School mascot will be the service dog; radio commentator Trey Ware ridiculed the choice of the mascot.
Meanwhile in 2018, a politically correct school board in Oklahoma City similarly announced the renaming of its own Robert E. Lee High School to "Lee High School" in honor of Oklahoma philanthropist Adelaide Lee (so obscure that background information is not on the Internet), who according to the district advanced the cause of women and children by expanding access to education and day care.
Another Robert E. Lee High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was also named Lee High School in 2016. On June 18, 2020, the politically correct East Baton Rouge Parish School Board appointed a committee to develop an alternative name for the 71-year-old institution. Connie Bernard, a Republican member of the school board for District 8, at first defended the name of General Lee and urged his critics to study the totality of Lee's career. However, Bernard under pressure quickly reversed course and pledged to work for racial reconcilation: “I condemn racial injustice in any form. I promise to be part of the solution and to listen to the concerns of all members of our community. I stand with you, in love and respect. … I agree with (New Orleans Saints football player) Drew Brees when he said, ‘We have a long way to go. We can do better. We are all part of the solution.’ I promise I will be part of the solution.”
- The Trey Ware Show, KTSA Radio, San Antonio, Texas, August 30, 2017.
- Texas high school named for Robert E. Lee renamed to L.E.E. High School. Wcyb.com. Retrieved on October 10, 2017.
- Lauren Caruba, "History and controversy collide: Rival petitions over Lee High School name are launched," San Antonio Express-News, August 19, 2017, pp. A3, A4.
- Maria Anglin, San Antonio Express-News, August 20, 2017, p. F3.
- Hope, Merrill (August 31, 2017). Texas School Sheds ‘Robert E. Lee’ for ‘Student Safety’. Breitbart News. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
- Lauren Caruba, "NEISD to re-examine Lee's name: No change for high school two years ago," San Antonio Express-News, August 25, 2017, pp. A3, A5.
- Handbook of Texas Online, Charles G. Davis, "Camp Cooper," accessed August 27, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qbc09. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on February 5, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association
- The Trey Ware Show, September 19, 2017.
- North East Independent School District, Texas. Ballotpedia. Retrieved on October 19, 2017.
- Renaming Lee High School to L.E.E. High School Is a Non-Decision. KTSA.com. Retrieved on October 20, 2017.
- The Trey Ware Show, April 3, 2018.
- Oklahoma school swapping Robert E. Lee's name for another Lee. Msn.com (May 15, 2018). Retrieved on May 16, 2018.
- Charles Lussier (June 19, 2020). Baton Rouge school board member apologizes for comments defending General Robert E. Lee. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on June 20, 2020.