Board of Education Chooses ‘Love’ over ‘Haight’
In a 5-0 vote at its April 23 public meeting, the Board of Education for Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) approved changing the name “Haight Elementary School” to “Love Elementary School.”
The vote concluded a months-long process implemented by the Haight Renaming Committee to generate criteria for a new name, take name submissions, hold a primary election to narrow the list, conduct a general election between “Love” and “Haight,” and then submit the name to Superintendent Sean McPhetridge.
The proposed name generated considerable controversy among some Haight staff and community members. Some opposed changing the name at all; many advocated for changing the name to Niel Tam Elementary instead.
In comments at the April 23 meeting, several board members suggested that Tam — who over the course of his 30-year career with AUSD was a teacher, bargaining unit representative, Board of Education member and the first Asian-American principal in the district — would have wanted to honor the will of the community.
During their comments, Board members spoke of the need to honor the democratic process, respect the work of the renaming committee and begin a process of healing. The Board also directed staff to explore ways to honor Tam, perhaps by naming another building or facility after him.
The school’s name won’t be changed officially until this summer. Plans to honor “Haight Elementary” include creating a scrapbook, display case and book of oral histories. A ceremony marking the adoption of the new name is also being planned for August.