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Tulsa Public Schools responds to petition to change name of Lee Elementary

TULSA, Okla. – Following deadly protests in Virginia this weekend, a local school district says it will consider changing the name of an elementary school.

A ‘state of emergency’ was declared in Virginia after three people died and 19 others were injured during clashes between white nationalists and counter protesters.

After the dust settled, a petition appeared on Change.org to rename Lee Elementary School in Tulsa.

“No one wants to see Tulsa be the next Charlottesville. There’s not much we can do to fight against White Supremacists in America, but this is something we CAN do. We have control over who we glorify,” the petition states.

It goes on to suggest holding a contest and allowing the Tulsa community to vote for a new name of the school.

So far, more than 1,000 people have signed the petition.

On Monday, Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist responded to the petition, saying leaders will take a closer look at the names of all schools in the district.

“We are heartbroken by the events that unfolded in Charlottesville this weekend. This blatant display of racism and bigotry by a misguided, misinformed group of white supremacists is alarming, troubling, and deeply hurtful to everyone in our community. Every person deserves love, respect, and dignity, and we remain committed to effecting transformative change by putting equity at the forefront of the ways that we teach, learn, and work together.

I have discussed the namesakes of our schools with board members previously and certainly in recent days. Leading with equity means thinking critically about our traditions and histories and recognizing where changes may be needed to live our core values of equity, character, excellence, team, and joy. We are committing to undertaking a full review of the names of all of our schools to ensure that our learning communities have names that are aligned with our values. We are working to identify community members to engage with us in this effort and look forward to sharing more information as our plans develop,” Gist wrote.