HUNTSVILLE, Ala.- The Huntsville City School Board of Education is taking the next step to potentially rename Lee High School.
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, the board approved a resolution allowing the district attorney to seek guidance from the Alabama Attorney General about changing the name of Lee High School.
The school was named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee. District leaders say students, parents, and community members approached the district about changing the school’s name and they started the conversation this summer.
Now months later, there’s some legal red tape potentially blocking a name change for Lee High School – the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act.
The Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 prohibits memorial schools on public property that are 20 years or older from being renamed without a waiver.
Tuesday night, the Huntsville City School board passed a resolution to allow the board attorney to reach out to the Alabama Attorney General for guidance.
“Our question is: Whether or not when Lee High moved from its old site on Forest Circle to its new site where it’s now housed in 2012 – Did that move basically prevent the application of the Memorial Preservation Act?” says attorney Chris Pape.
Chris Pape is the school board’s attorney. He says there is a wrinkle in a possible Lee High name change.
“There is one ball field that is in its original spot from the 1957 location, so it’s almost entirely moved to a new location, but there is one field that overlaps the old property,” says Pape.
Pape says the board wants to follow rules. If the school is protected by the act, the board will likely file for a waiver.
“If for some reason that waiver is not granted by the state, then the next step would be to pay the fine and the fine is $25,000. Then after that, once you’ve paid the fine, it would pretty much put everything to rest and the board could name the school whatever it does consistent with its policy,” says Pape.
Pape says the school board hasn’t officially committed to changing the name of Lee High School just yet.
He says this is still in the very early stages and while the board is working through legal steps, they are also still getting community feedback.