Comment Period Now Open on Proposed Name for Haight School

 

The Board of Education for the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) is currently taking public comment on the proposed new name for Haight Elementary School. The AUSD regulation that governs school names mandates a comment period for a new name that runs, at a minimum, from March 1 to April 15. The comment period for the Haight renaming opened on Jan. 25. Comments can be sent to Board of Education members who can be reached at 337-7187, or at their individual email addresses.

• Mia Bonta, president, 
mbonta@alamedaunified.org
• Gray Harris, vice president, 
gharris@alamedaunified.org
• Gary K. Lym, clerk, 
gklym@alamedaunified.org
• Ardella Dailey, Ed.D., trustee, 
adailey@alamedaunified.org
• Jennifer Williams, trustee, 
jennwilliams@alamedaunified.org

Parent, guardians, students and community members began advocating for a new name for the school last December. They had learned that Henry Huntly Haight, the state governor after whom the school was named, espoused racist views and opposed giving Asians, Native Americans and formerly enslaved Africans the right to vote.

The proposed name, “Love Elementary School,” is the result of a 10-month process. This included a petition calling for a new name, the formation of a renaming committee, the development of criteria for a new name and a six-week public name submission period. 

More than 200 names were submitted by the community. Of those, the Haight Renaming Committee chose four that fit the criteria it had developed: Don Grant and Niel Tam (submitted by adults) and “Love” and “Ohlone” (submitted by students).

Haight Elementary students, family members and staff received voter guides on the candidate names. They had an opportunity to vote on those names in a “primary election” held Nov. 6, 2018. “Love” won the primary election. On Nov. 15, Haight Elementary students, family members, alumni and neighbors had the opportunity to vote in a “general election” between “Haight Elementary School” and “Love Elementary School.” Election materials distributed before the election noted that keeping “Haight” as a name shows respect for history, tradition and a former governor of California. Election materials stated that “Love” is a suitable name for a school:

Because love is at the center of learning, and love should be built into our school in every way possible.  School is a place where you can show love for yourself and your family, your teachers and your students and peers. Love of our school means love of teaching and learning, of reading, writing, playing, laughing and fun.  Naming our school for Love shows that everyone belongs here, that we can give love to those who are hurting and to those who believe other things than we do. At a school named Love we teach and learn love for our neighbors, love for our city, love for our country and love for the Earth.

More than 70 percent of the voters chose “Love.”

The Haight Renaming Committee submitted a recommendation to change the name to Love Elementary School to Superintendent Sean McPhetridge on Jan. 15. The superintendent, in turn, presented the name to the Board of Education at its Jan. 22 public meeting. The committee also gave a presentation on the name change process at that meeting.

“The Haight Renaming Committee followed AUSD’s regulations for proposing a school name change,” said McPhetridge. “I thank the committee for its efforts to run a democratic process that emphasizes community engagement, student voice and social justice. That democratic process now enters the next phase of community engagement with this open comment process. I encourage the community to send their thoughts and comments to our board members.”