Lee Elementary name change possibly delayed

TULSA -- The name change for Robert E Lee Elementary could be postponed.

Lee Elementary is one of several schools in Tulsa that is getting a new name.

The district has conducted surveys, taken votes and held meetings.

The board voted to name it Lee Elementary and drop "Robert E."

"How do you separate Robert E Lee from Lee School?" Jennettie Marshall, district three school board member for TPS, said. "It's one in the same."

Marshall said she heard from people who said they are upset by the name of the school where they attend or work. They told her it is because it is named after someone controversial.

In a report done by a council created for the name changes for TPS, Robert E Lee is said to have supported the Confederacy which is not in line with community values.

"To hold on to part of a name that has been oppressive is not making it better," Marshall said. "It's holding on to the pain."

Linda Hilsabeck, a physical education teacher who has been with Lee Elementary for 24 years, said the name of the school does have a lot of meaning to people closely associated with the school.

"It has nothing to do with all this other stuff that people have brought up concerning Robert E Lee," Hilsabeck said. "It’s been Lee School for 99 years."

She said she was brought to tears when she heard they may have to go through the renaming process again.

Hilsabeck said they surveyed people with ties to the school and the board voted. All of the results showed the new name would be just Lee Elementary.

"It’s not quite fair," Hilsabeck said. "I’m a PE teacher. They want to change the rules and play the game over. It just doesn’t make any sense to me."

The ultimate decision to delay the name change is up to the school board.

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