Prince William County schools Superintendent Steve Walts said Friday that the school division should rename a high school and middle school named after Stonewall Jackson. The move would require action by the school board. 

Walts’ comments come after a week of protests in Prince William County following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The school division has also had to respond in recent days to racist comments allegedly made by staff at two schools in recent days.

On Thursday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the state would be removing a statue of Robert E. Lee from Monument Avenue in Richmond. 

Stonewall Jackson High School and Stonewall Middle School, both in the Manassas area, are named after the Confederate general. 

“It is an insult and an affront to our students, especially in schools where the majority of the students are students of color,” Walts said in a statement Friday.

He also called on the school board to ban wearing or flying of the Confederate flag on school property. 

“This behavior is often meant to intimidate students of color, and as such, it is a disruption to the educational environment,” Walts said. “Incidents in the past have made students extremely uncomfortable, the opposite of my vision for our schools.” 

Walts also proposed creating a community panel to review the school division’s agreement with the Prince William County Police and make recommendations if necessary.

“Our law enforcement partners are critical to the safety of all our students and employees and we thank them for their service,” Walts said. “We recognize, however, that the relationship between police and all the members of our school community is not always perceived positively.” 

Walts said there likely would be more changes to come. “As educators, we must continue to find the means to lend our voices for those who cannot be heard,” he said.

Walts’ advisory council on equity will continue to make recommendations about a variety of issues, he said, such as access, curriculum. He noted all staff are required to complete culturally responsive instruction training.

SCHOOL BOARD RESPONDS TO FLOYD DEATH

The Prince William County School Board released a statement Friday the board “shares the community's sadness, anger, and frustration with the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless other Black Americans. We are shocked and disturbed by these events. We stand in solidarity with Americans everywhere who have been outraged by these events, and with the peaceful protesters who have sparked a national dialogue that must take place.”

“We are encouraged by the diversity of young adults and students participating in these protests. Prince William County School’s greatest strength is our diversity, and we must build on that,” according to the school board statement. 

The school board announced its goal to “pursue concrete ideas to engage our students, the leaders of the next generation, in constructive dialogue.” The school board is committed to expanding cultural competency and implicit training for school division employees and students. 

“We will insist on compliance with our nondiscrimination policies, institute curricular improvements to address cultural sensitivity so that all voices are heard, and seek to recruit and hire faculty and staff who reflect the diversity of our community,” according to the statement. “We will also seek out more opportunities for our students to have a voice with our law enforcement, elected officials, and members of our school administration.”

(15) comments

Antonio Marisol

Deflection from his improper tweeting with PWCS students much?

MJMoonwalker

The movement to erase the history of the democrat party marches on. What's the oldest racist organization in the world? That's right, the democrat party. While they no longer support slavery they still only care about your race, class and gender.

The statues are nothing but participation trophies, since they lost. I thought y’all don’t like losers?

Bigfoot

First off. Why is Walts still working? Shouldn't he be on leave for what he's been accused of. Allow time for an investigation. That said. Screw you for making this recommendation.

Citizen52

I think that his contract is up for renewal. This should help him.

Motodude447

What a disgrace, get over your feelings... It's history it happened... Regardless of his views he was a great man and earned respect from all Americans even the union so grasp that before rewriting history books

Dmvhodl

[tongue]

tman

Why celebrate traitorous losers? We should never forget history, or we can never learn from it. But we certainly shouldn't celebrate them as heroes with monuments, schools and roads.

Reallynow

Yea I often wonder why Mexico celebrates the Generals from the Mexican American war since they lost and gave up the state of Texas.

Matt Murdock

Surprised Walts had time to do anything else but message underage children.

Reallynow

I grew up in Manassas and graduated from SJHS. I no longer live there but travel back often. PW County is an eyesore. There is absolutely zero zoning enforcement in the neighborhoods. The street parking along Liberia is stacked with both work and personal vehicles. The street is choked from Mathis all the way down to Stonewall. The County leadership is paralyzed by race so nothing gets done. You can kick down every confederate statue in the US and you’ll still have failing schools, high unemployment rates, fatherless homes and the culture rot in many African American Communities.

So glad you’re gone and do all a favor and stay away. If you are not a benefit to the community, you’re the problem of the community.

Justinb

Instead of destroying and renaming history, why don't you teach it better. The flag you see does not resemble hate nor is it the confederate flag. It is Virginia's battle flag. You can't rewrite history and try to pretend that it don't exist. If you say it resembles hate and slavery then you'll have to rename or tear down mount vernon,Vernon, Lincoln memorial, and change the names of things that has there name on it. Leave our southern heritage alone and worry about more important things

Stop with the “destroying history” nonsense, your precious Southern Heritage will be placed where appropriate, in a museum, where you can go see it whenever you’d like. If you think that the Confederate flag has not been used by hate groups and as a means of intimidation, then you need to expose yourself to more information sources to get the ground truth. Understand that the Commonwealth, the Union, and the World is changing, and your side lost. So take down your Participation Trophies, put them in their glass cases where they belong, and we can become a more welcoming environment for all people.

BTI

I nominate David Robinson SR HS

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Robinson

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