How Arlington High School in Virginia changed its name to Arlington University in the aftermath of the Charlottesville, Va., riot
— As Charlottesville erupted into chaos and violence in August, Arlington High’s school district changed its official name to “Arlington University.”
The school is still known as Arlington High, but its official website now says it’s a “new name.”
“I think we’ve been blessed with a very unique name that is part of our history, part of who we are and part of the culture,” said David Ralston, Arlington’s chief administrative officer, during an interview with Business Insider.
“It really has nothing to do with Charlottesville and everything to do in terms of our values.”
Ralston is one of many high school leaders in Virginia who’ve come to the conclusion that the name change is in the best interest of students and community.
And they’ve spent months preparing for the change.
After a year of planning, the Virginia Department of Education, which oversees schools in the state, released a new set of guidelines for changing schools’ names in January.
The guidelines require schools to submit a name change proposal to the school district within 90 days of the school’s name changing, and the district must submit its proposal to an official in the Department of Transportation within 60 days.
The department also requires schools to post a notice on its website with details on the name changes and how to opt out if they are not in the schools best interest.
Ralton said the department has also been working with the Arlington High community to make sure the new name doesn’t become a divisive issue.
“This is a brand that has been very strong for us in terms a diversity of voices and a variety of values,” he said.
“The community has come together and they’ve made it very clear that they’re willing to take on this challenge.”
The Arlington High school district had originally planned to rename the school after its namesake, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, in the 1960s.
Lee had been an ally of President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and served as president of the United States from 1862 to 1865.
The name change was the result of a decades-long process that began in the 1990s.
In 2017, the state Department of Health and Human Services released a report that determined that Arlington’s name was “inappropriate” and that the school should be renamed.
The school district was granted a two-year extension to make changes.
A letter from the department’s public information officer, which is the primary point of contact for local school districts, informed Arlington High in January that the department would be releasing a new list of schools that would be able to opt-out of the change process if they chose to do so.
The new guidelines require all schools in Virginia to have a new official name.
The names of the schools that were named before 2020 have to be changed and replaced by a new name.
The letter also says that if a school does not meet the new requirements, then the school must submit a petition to the state and get the name changed in the next 90 days.
The district can appeal the ruling.
In an interview last week, Ralton confirmed that the district has already received about 40 letters from Virginia high schools.
“We’ve had about 100 letters that we’ve received and we have a very good handle on them,” he told Business Insider in a phone interview.
“We’ve got a really strong team that’s ready to move forward with the change.”
In August, a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Washington, D.C.-based Leadership Institute in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia argued that the Virginia department’s rules on naming schools for political purposes violated the U,S.
Constitution and federal law.
The ACLU, the Leadership Institute and others argued that Arlington High should have been renamed the Robert E Lee High School.
The lawsuit was settled last month, with the Virginia Education Association agreeing to modify the guidelines to allow schools to opt to change their names.
Rallings like this one have become more common in Virginia as the state struggles to recover from the damage from the rioting in Charlottesville, the deadliest mass shooting in U.C.L.A. students were the victims of the riot and subsequent protests that erupted in August.
Many of the high school students who were targeted by the white supremacists were not students at the school.
Some were not even students at Arlington High at the time of the riots.
Rallying against the Charlottesville riot was a common sight for many students, who participated in the rallies, held outside the campus of the historically black university.
In addition to rallying in support of Confederate General Robert E, Lee, the rallies were also aimed at getting the Confederate flag banned from public places, including Arlington High.
In some cases, high school athletes had to be escorted from campus by police because of the demonstrations.
In other cases, the school did not want to allow students to rally on campus.
The ACLU said in a letter