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Cale Advisory Committee Recommends Changing the Name of Cale Elementary School

DATE: September 11, 2019
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
PHONE: 434-972-4049

Cale Advisory Committee Recommends Changing the Name of Cale Elementary School

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – The Cale Advisory Committee has recommended to Albemarle County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Matthew Haas that the name of Cale Elementary School be changed in accordance with a new School Board policy on the naming and renaming of schools, adopted earlier this year.

The community advisory committee, which began its review on May 28, was directed by the Superintendent to determine if the name of the school meets the standards set by the School Board in its policy. Those standards call for school names to be consistent with the Board’s currently adopted vision, mission, goals and values.

Those four values are excellence, young people, community, and respect. The school division’s mission is “to establish a community of learners and learning, through relationships, relevance and rigor, one student at a time,” while its vision is that “all learners believe in their power to embrace learning, to excel, and to own their future.”

The division’s one goal for all students is that they “will graduate having actively mastered the lifelong-learning skills they need to succeed as 21st century learners, workers and citizens.”

The advisory committee includes parents of Cale students and residents of the Cale community, administrators and teachers from the school, and the Assistant Superintendent for School Community Empowerment. Dennis Rooker, a former chair and three-term member of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, chairs the advisory committee.

The School Board directed Superintendent Haas to review the name of Cale Elementary School in light of its new policy and the discovery of a national magazine article from 1956. The article depicted Paul Cale, then the school division’s Superintendent, as questioning the integration of public schools in the county as well as the competence of African-American teachers compared to their white counterparts.

In its review of Cale’s tenure as Superintendent from 1947 to 1969, the committee’s research included an extensive review of School Board and Board of Supervisors meeting minutes from those years; newspaper archives from that era; interviews of students, teachers and administrators who were in county schools during that period; materials submitted by members of the Cale family and acquaintances; and emails and letters sent to the committee. The committee also heard from members of the community, including the Cale family.

“The period of time that Mr. Cale served as Superintendent was tumultuous in many ways,” said Rooker. He noted that for most of the 22 years Cale was Superintendent, Albemarle County schools were segregated. In fact, county schools were not fully integrated until 1968, one year before Cale’s retirement. This was 14 years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregated public schools were unconstitutional, and three years after Charlottesville City Schools were fully integrated.

“Our committee saw no evidence that Mr. Cale ever spoke publicly against segregation, nor did we find any indication that he ever pushed to have integration occur faster,” Rooker said. “We must acknowledge, however, that Mr. Cale was dealing with a School Board strongly opposed to integration.” Rooker added that , based upon the evidence reviewed by the committee, there were many overt racists in power during most of Cale’s tenure, including School Board members.

In 1963, for example, when it became apparent that some form of integration of county schools was inevitable, the School Board voted unanimously to eliminate athletics and social functions in county schools to prevent the social mixing of the races. The Board of Supervisors later ordered the School Board to repeal that decision. When the School Board refused, the Board of Supervisors fired four School Board members. The Committee saw no evidence that Mr. Cale ever took a public position on this issue one way or the other.

“Mr. Cale was neither a hero nor a villain. He did much to improve education and educational facilities during his time as Superintendent,” Rooker said. “Among those improvements were the consolidation of schools, many of which had been without indoor plumbing or central heat, into fully equipped modern buildings. Under his leadership, the school division added guidance counselors, school psychologists, libraries, and night classes for adults,” he added.

Regarding the 1956 article in Commentary Magazine that led to the committee’s formation, the committee found no evidence that a correction or retraction of Cale’s comments were ever requested, nor did they find any public comments by Cale that were inconsistent with the views that were attributed to him in the article. The committee’s research revealed that the writer of the article, James Rorty, was an accomplished author; had produced hundreds of articles, poems, essays and books; and was the recipient of national and international awards for his work. Commentary Magazine remains a reputable publication.

Rooker said the article itself and the continued segregation of county schools long after the Supreme Court decision and after Charlottesville City’s integration of schools made the continued use of the name of Cale Elementary School controversial.

“This is not about Paul Cale, however,” he said. “This is about present and future students, teachers, and other members of the community. It is on that basis that our committee reached a consensus that the name of the school be changed,” he stated.

Superintendent Haas thanked the committee for their due diligence and their commitment to serving the Cale community. “They willingly took on what is, for many, an emotional and difficult issue. Their work was thoughtful and valuable,” he said.

Haas said he will consider the committee’s recommendation and anticipates making his recommendation to the School Board during a School Board meeting next month.

If the School Board ultimately decides to change the name of Cale Elementary School, the advisory committee, as directed by policy, will reconvene to recommend to the Superintendent a new name for the school. The committee will have 90 days to complete its work, which will include a public meeting to gather input from the community.



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