This webpage will be continually updated with information about the 2021-22 Washington Elementary School Renaming Process.
School Board Action to Discontinue the Name Washington
On June 10, 2020, the Berkeley School Board’s Resolution In Support of Black Lives Matter, included a commitment to change the names of Jefferson and Washington Schools, as they were named after slaveholders. In the case of George Washington, while he eventually freed many of the people he and his wife had held in bondage, owed his wealth to the enslaved labor of hundreds of human beings, signed the Fugitive Slave Act, and relentlessly pursued many enslaved people who attempted to escape. On June 23, 2020, a Virtual Town Hall was held at Washington to explain the renaming process.
On July 1, 2020, the Berkeley School Board officially voted to discontinue the names “Jefferson” and “Washington.” The Information item and board discussion and vote can be watched online beginning about minute 2:10:44 in the archived video. The presentation and documents are online as Board item 12.1.
Jefferson Elementary was renamed first, in a process that took place from August to December 2020, following Board Policy 7310 for Facilities Naming and Renaming. The process, as described in the Jefferson Elementary renaming webpage, lead to the selection of a name honoring a distinguished educator, “Ruth Acty Elementary School.”
Timeline for Process and Board Decision
A Naming Advisory Committee was formed at Washington School to work with the Superintendent and school community to solicit and review potential new names for the school. The Naming Advisory Committee (NAC) also supports the education and engagement process for discussing top names with the school community. The committee listens to feedback from the community and provides a recommendation to the Superintendent, who then brings forward a name to the School Board for their ultimate decision.
The Naming Advisory Committee, composed of current staff and parents at Washington began meeting in September 2021. The renaming process was also explained and discussed at a PTA meeting on September 23, and a Staff meeting on September 29. The committee, staff and community felt that the original timeline, which proposed selecting a new name by December 2021, was too short, and at an Advisory Committee Meeting on October 25, 2021. The Superintendent agreed to extend the timeline to March 2022, in accordance with the board policy, which permits up to 6 months for the process. Following is the outline of next steps. Please return to this page for further updates and links as the process moves forward!
Steps Toward a New Name
- Priorities: First, the community was asked what is most important in choosing a new name. Should the name have some connection to Berkeley? Uplift unknown stories, especially of people of color? Be especially inspiring to children? (Due November 10)
- Name Suggestions (November 16 – December 1): A name suggestion form was shared during the week of November 15 to ask for suggestions for a new name (including something about the name and how it reflects our community priorities.) The committee planned outreach to individuals and community groups and affinity groups as well. Suggestions will be accepted until December 1st (Dec 2nd for ELAC).
- Top Six Names (December 13): The renaming advisory committee will look at all the names in light of the community priorities and come up with a short list of around six names by December 13.
- Learning and Discussing (January 17 – February 4): Students will learn about the 6 possible school names in January and discuss them in class. Families will also receive updates and information about names.
- Community Opinions (February 7 – 18): Students, families, teachers, staff, and key affinity groups will provide input on the top choices in February.
- Decision (first Board meeting in March): The advisory committee will listen to all of the feedback and recommend a name or names to the Superintendent, so that he can make a formal recommendation to the school board.
- Celebrate! The new name should be chosen by March, and new signage will go up by the end of the school year. We look forward to celebrating the new name together!
As work progresses, links will be provided to:
- School Name Suggestion Form
- List of All Name Suggestions
- Links to Learning Materials for Top 6 Names
- Feedback on Top 6 Names
- Superintendent’s Recommendation to School Board
- School Board Decision