Clarendon community says they were left out of historic school renaming

Clarendon community says they were left out of historic school renaming

CLARENDON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Hundreds of community members in Clarendon School District One have signed a petition asking the board of trustees to reverse a recent school name change.

Tiffany Monroe was a student at St. Paul Elementary in Summerton. Her daughter was also a student there. Now, Monroe is helping to organize efforts calling for a reversal of the name change earlier this year.

It’s a school that played a significant role in our country’s history. Back in the early 1950′s, the school was part of the historic Briggs v. Elliott case, the first of five cases to make up the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case, which ruled racial segregation in schools unconstitutional.

In February, the Clarendon School District One board of trustees voted to change the name of the school to Dr. Rose H. Wilder, a former superintendent of the district.

Monroe says she’s helped to collect more than 1,200 signatures through an online petition and multiple drive through events from residents who say they were not aware this name change was even being considered.

She and several other organizers are holding a press conference outside of the district office at 10:00 AM, Saturday, October 17, 2020.

“It has nothing personally to do with Dr. Rose Wilder. If the community had voted and wanted to change the name to Dr. Rose Wilder or anybody else and it was literally out there, the community actually participated, that wouldn’t have been a problem but no one seems to know anything about anything until after it happened,” said Monroe.

After a request for comment, Superintendent Barbara Champagne with the Clarendon School District One sent the following statement:

The Clarendon School District One Board of Trustees was intentional and due diligence in informing the community of the name change of Saint Paul Elementary to Dr. Rose H. Wilder Elementary School. Several board meetings were held, affording public participation. The district also distributed surveys and flyers soliciting community input. An official action of re-naming the school occurred during a regular board meeting on February 3, 2020, with the majority of members voting affirmatively. Clarendon One will continue to be attentive and responsive to the voices and concerns of the community.”

“The Clarendon School District One Board of Trustees was intentional and due diligence in informing the community of the name change of Saint Paul Elementary to Dr. Rose H. Wilder Elementary School. Several board meetings were held, affording public participation. The district also distributed surveys and flyers soliciting community input. An official action of re-naming the school occurred during a regular board meeting on February 3, 2020, with the majority of members voting affirmatively. Clarendon One will continue to be attentive and responsive to the voices and concerns of the community.”

Monroe says several community members she’s spoken with say they were only made aware the change once it was final.

“What we want to see is, even if the name is not restored to St. Paul, we want to see the board actually give the community, the people a chance to vote on what they would like for that name to be,” said Monroe, who continued saying they’ve been asking questions and, “We’re asking them to show us these surveys were said were done. We have not received those as of yet.”

Monroe says it’s not so much about the name, but the process. She says the community should be given the opportunity to have a say.

She said, “We feel as though we’re not clearly being heard or understood. They’re basically saying, 'this is what it is. We have the right to do that.”

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