Reagan High School Renamed As Austin ISD Abandons Confederate Namesakes

Feb 26, 2019

A Northeast Austin school named after the postmaster general of the Confederacy has been renamed Northeast Early College High School.

The Austin Independent School District's board of trustees voted Monday night to change the name of John H. Reagan High School. This is the third school name the board has voted to change, as part of its effort to rename schools named after Confederate figures. 

Last fall, a committee at Reagan proposed just dropping "John H." and calling the school Reagan High School. Reagan alumni and students said they didn't want to lose the history of their school. But others pushed back, saying the point of renaming is to not honor members of the Confederacy.

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LaTisha Anderson, the board member who represents Reagan, proposed the vote to rename the school Northeast High. Before the vote, she ran through the history of the school's name, pointing out the school in then-segregated East Austin was named for a high-level member of the Confederacy in the midst of nationwide desegregation efforts in the '60s.

Anderson said she chose Northeast to move away from namesakes.

"I wanted to celebrate the community," she said. "I don’t want this to be about a name on the building. I’m interested in what’s happening in the building.” 

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Board member Ann Teich was the only vote against the change. She has opposed these name changes, saying it's unfair to just rename schools with namesakes who were part of the Confederacy, when other school namesakes were slave owners.

Teich and board member Jayme Mathias proposed adding more school names to the list. They suggested Lamar Middle School and Austin and Bowie High Schools because the men those schools are named for were proponents of slavery or slaveowners themselves. The board could vote on those schools as early as next month.

The board previously voted to rename Fulmore Middle School to Sarah Beth Lively Middle School and The Allan Center after Anita Coy. It also will vote on Lanier High School and Eastside Memorial at the Johnston Campus, but board members have not put those schools up for a vote yet.