Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Dixie changes name to Miller Creek Elementary School District

Dixie changes name to Miller Creek Elementary School District

Elementary school name changed to Lucas Valley Elementary School

The sign for Dixie Elementary School sits at the school’s parking lot entrance in San Rafael, Calif. on Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

By KERI BRENNER | | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: July 9, 2019 at 9:10 pm | UPDATED: July 10, 2019 at 6:12 am

Despite a strong pocket of objections, Dixie School District trustees voted 3 to 1, with one abstention, on Tuesday to adopt a new district name: Miller Creek Elementary School District.

“It is Dixie by proxy,” said Marin name change activist Kerry Pierson, referring to the new name’s connection to the founder of the Dixie School District, James Miller. “All the arguments that it’s after the (Miller Creek) watershed are just — it should be clear to any observer what this is about: it’s about white privilege, white power, in a little district.”

District parent and resident Jason Lewis, a supporter of the name change and a petitioner for Miller Creek, disagreed.

“I don’t believe the word Dixie and the name Miller have the same (racial) significance in this country,” he said. He said accusations that were brought to the naming advisory committee about James Miller “were not based on fact; they were based on speculation.”

Board members Alissa Chacko, Brooks Nguyen and Brad Honsberger, who voted in favor of Miller Creek, said they saw widespread support for the name, not only from former “We Are Dixie” members who wanted to keep the name Dixie, but from people, like Lewis, who wanted to change the name.

“I saw names of people (on the petitions) I never saw before,” Chacko said. “That was inspiring.”

Trustee Marnie Glickman voted against Miller Creek, saying she wanted to respect the work of the naming advisory committee, who rejected Miller Creek twice because of its association with James Miller. The advisory committee recommended Kenne, Creekside and Laurel Creek, all of which were denied by the board. Trustee Megan Hutchinson abstained.

The board also voted 4 to 1 in favor of changing Dixie Elementary School to Lucas Valley Elementary School. Glickman cast the sole no vote.

The new names are intended to be put in place by the time the new school year starts Aug. 22. Marin Community Foundation has pledged to help with the cost of the name changes, which will include new signs, letterhead, business cards, website edits and other items..

Tuesday’s decisions came after the board of trustees in April voted 3 to 1, with one abstention, to change the name of the district and the elementary school to remove the word Dixie. Critics said Dixie was a nod to the racism and slavery of the Confederacy in the Civil War-era South, and was hurtful to people of color and others who found it objectionable. People who wanted to keep the name Dixie said it was part of the community heritage and that they didn’t want to erase history.

After the vote in April, the district formed two naming advisory committees — one for the district and the other for the elementary school — to gather community feedback and narrow down choices for new names for presentation to the board on June 25. Petitions with 15 valid signatures of district voters were required for the district name proposals; the elementary school process did not require petitions.

The issue, which has come up several times before over the past two decades but was not resolved, has roiled the north San Rafael community — and burned through a harsh and bitter trail on social media and at public meetings — for almost nine months. That was after some name change supporters appeared on local TV news in August 2018, including trustee Marnie Glickman, who attended Tuesday’s meeting via teleconference. Some residents who objected to those actions have launched a petition drive to recall Glickman, whose term is up in 2020.

Former Dixie School District Superintendent Jason Yamashiro, who was also one of the people in the TV news broadcast, quit the job earlier this year and left at the end of June. An interim superintendent, Becky Rosales, had her first day on the job Tuesday and was introduced to the community at the start of the Tuesday’s meeting, just before the public hearing. The board is expected to launch a search for a new superintendent in the fall.  See the full article HERE

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