In May 2017, the Le Conte Elementary School community submitted a petition to the Superintendent to initiate a name review process. The petition was reviewed and accepted by the Superintendent, who initiated a review process beginning in the fall of 2017.
Meetings to Review Current Name
As specified in the Administrative Regulation, a meeting was held to gather input from parents/guardians and staff. The meeting with parents/guardians of Le Conte Elementary School was held on September 20, 2017, and a meeting was held with Le Conte teachers and staff on September 27, 2017. Neighbors were also invited to a meeting on October 16, 2017, and information was posted on the district website.
The agenda for the meetings included:
- Getting to Know the Le Conte School Community – values, pride, strengths
- Review of the Policy, Process and Timeline for name change decision-making
- Joseph Le Conte – why chosen for school name in 1892, past and present controversy, including the Sierra Club decision to rename a building.
- Table Talk – opportunities and challenges in changing the name
- Straw Poll – leaning for, undecided, against name change, and why
- Process suggestions, next steps
Both the parent/guardian and staff meeting straw polls showed strong support for changing the name, with the primary reason being the desire to have a name that is more reflective of the values, civic ideals and educational goals for the school. Concerns have included how to reach consensus on a new name, whether the name should represent a person, group, place, thing or idea; and how to maintain the sense of continuity for alumni with a change of name.
Based on his review and community input, the Superintendent recommended that the Le Conte Elementary School name be discontinued. The recommendation went to the Board at the School Board meeting on November 15, 2017. The Board item is #12.1 in the online agenda.
School Board Decision
On November 15, 2017, the School Board voted to accept the recommendation to discontinue the name “Le Conte” for the Elementary School. The presentation and board discussion can be watched online beginning about 1:09 in the archived video. There were also public comments before and after the meeting. The report on the vote and Board President’s comments are at this link.
Superintendent’s Naming Advisory Committee
An advisory committee was formed to work with the Superintendent and community to solicit and review potential new names for the school. The Naming Advisory Committee members include parents, staff and neighbors of the school.
The Advisory Committee has worked with the Superintendent and Director of Community Relations to plan the community process for proposing a new name and also reviews all school name suggestions, referring to a rubric created from criteria which meet the board requirements and community priorities.
Community meetings held at the school are: January 17, February 12, and March 14 to discuss criteria and potential names. In addition to these community meetings, additional outreach includes focus groups, surveys, school discussions, and online and paper submission forms.
School Name Suggestions
A total of 220 suggestions for school name suggestions were received before the deadline of February 15, 2018. Some names received multiple nominations (28 names received multiple nominations, and an online petition received 349 signatures)
The 118 distinct school name submissions, listed on this page, included:
- 76 names of individuals,
- 42 names of groups, places, phrases, or things
Suggestions for a new school name must align with the Board Policy 7310, as well as fit several of the criteria that were developed by the Advisory Committee in consultation with the Superintendent and the school community.
Short List of Names
The Advisory Committee initially reviewed all name suggestions to winnow the list to 20 top choices, and then reduced the list to 7 to share with the community for further discussion beginning at a community meeting on March 14, 2018. The full list and short list of school names were shared with the School Board at the meeting on March 28, 2018 (Item #14)
Further information about the process and the names can be found at tinyurl.com/LC–Name–Info
School community and classroom discussions were held until the end of April. On May 2nd, the Advisory Committee convened to review community input and make a recommendation to the Superintendent.
Recommendation and Board Decision
The Naming Advisory Committee made the recommendation of Sylvia Mendez Elementary School for the School Board meeting on May 23, 2018. The board document and appendices further outline the process and rationale for the selection of this name. (Item #13) The board voted unanimously to accept the recommendation.