F.C. School Board Chair Issues Statement on Status of Name Change Issue

Greg Anderson, chair of the Falls Church School Board, issued a statement Thursday on the status of the board’s consideration regarding wishes by some in the community to change the names of two public schools in the City — George Mason High and Thomas Jefferson Elementary — on grounds that the figures for whom they are named owned slaves.

Anderson’s statement is as follows:

“In June, the School Board decided to consider changing the names of George Mason High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. There is strong community interest in this issue; we have received more than 100 public comments to date with support both for and against name changes. These comments represent a small share of our community and we believe it is imperative to seek input and give Falls Church residents, as well as Mason alumni, multiple avenues to share their thoughts on this issue. To gather feedback, the School Board has hired an outside consultant to conduct a community survey. In addition to the survey, the Board will hold at least two public comment sessions where members of the community can give their input on school renaming.

“During the process of selecting a firm to conduct the survey, the Board took into consideration the scope of the work needed and also the cost, in order to minimize expenditures. The basis for deciding to retain an outside consultant was twofold: a desire to have FCCPS staff remain solely focused on managing academics and return to school amidst the Covid-19 crisis and to have an independent and unbiased third party overseeing the survey and its results.”