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Superintendent Haas Recommends to the School Board That the Name of Cale Elementary School Be Changed

DATE: September 26, 2019
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
PHONE: 434-972-4049

Superintendent Haas Recommends to the School Board That the Name of Cale Elementary School Be Changed

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Albemarle County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Matthew Haas recommended this evening to the School Board that the name of Cale Elementary School be changed.

The Superintendent’s action is consistent with the recommendation of a citizen advisory committee that represented the Cale school community and began meeting in May. The committee reviewed records, documents, and interviews with members of the Cale family and with educators and students who worked in or attended Albemarle County Public Schools during the years when Paul Cale was Superintendent.

Haas said of those years, “It was a time when the law of the land and the promise of equality for all was routinely ignored across Virginia and in Albemarle County. In fact, it was a time when two Supreme Court orders were deliberately violated: the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 and the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Supreme Court in 1959.”

The name of a school, the Superintendent insisted, “should stand for something important and lasting.” And, in alignment with the directive he received from the School Board in October 2018, Haas said that school names should “evoke the four values of our school division: excellence, young people, community, and respect.”

These same values should drive all that the school division does, “from the people we hire, to the programs we operate, to our daily actions and interactions with those we serve, to the naming of our facilities,” Haas said.

In addition to recommending that the School Board approve changing the name of Cale Elementary School, the Superintendent made four other recommendations, all involving the current policy on naming or renaming school facilities.

Haas called for amending the policy to allow for more than one naming or renaming advisory committee at a time. Further, he suggested combining the directive to future committees to include determining whether to change the name of a school and, if needed, selecting a new name. With regard to the naming practice for future schools and facilities, Haas proposed prioritizing geographical location, and he suggested implementing a standard review cycle for all school names to ensure that names remain relevant to the school division’s policies and mission.

These changes, the Superintendent said, would make the process more efficient, less costly, and less stressful for the community, future advisory committees, and the family and friends of the person or persons for whom a school is named.

In urging the School Board to change the name of Cale Elementary School, the Superintendent said, “We cannot know all that was in the hearts and minds of our school division leaders more than 60 years ago. I will not pretend to know what they thought or felt about school integration or civil rights.”

“We do know this,” he continued. “Those leaders served during a period of time in our history that was unequivocally racist. While it was a time that should always be remembered, it is not a time to be celebrated,” he said.

Haas told Board members that, “Schools are meant to be a force for good, a force for progress, a place to bring people together toward a common purpose and a commitment to accomplishment as a community. Let us take a negative time in our county and school division’s past and make it a positive time for our future. Let us remain true to our values.”

“Let this begin by inviting our current Cale students, staff and families to be part of the naming of the elementary school they attend,” he concluded.

The Superintendent’s recommendations now are before the School Board and could be acted upon as early as next month. If the Board approves a name change, the Cale advisory committee would reconvene to make a recommendation on a new name for the school.

During this review period, the school will retain its current name. The advisory committee is required to hold two community meetings as part of its deliberative process. The purpose of the first meeting will be soliciting potential names for the school, and during the second meeting, the committee will gather public feedback on names under consideration.

At least three-fourths of the 11-member committee, or nine members, must approve a recommendation to the School Board. The advisory committee must forward a recommendation to the Board within three months from the day the Board approves a name change. If they do not agree on a recommendation, the Superintendent will make a recommendation to the School Board on a name for the school.

Prior to making his recommendation this evening, Haas said he first wanted to talk to members of the Cale family. “I admire what you have told us about your dad. Each of you are witness to the enduring love and support that Paul Cale had for his family and friends and for the dedication he had to the job he held,” Haas said.

A complete record of the documentation and information that was reviewed by the advisory committee over the past three months is available at:
https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/1SzWQBSmmgLquotbbxYKdVlkZfjsXk3ik

“I am grateful for the leadership of the Cale Advisory Committee’s chair, Dennis Rooker, and for the committee’s comprehensive work; the time and effort they devoted to serving their school community; their thoughtful deliberations; their openness to all points of view; and their willingness to take on a difficult challenge,” Haas said.

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