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Florida school no longer named for KKK founder Nathan Bedford Forrest

4:30 PM, Jan 8, 2014   |    comments
Nathan Bedford Forrest
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JACKSONVILLE, Florida (AP) -- A Jacksonville high school named in 1959 after a former Confederate general and the co-founder of the Ku Klux Klan has a new name, ending a decades-long debate over the issue.

The Duval County School Board voted Tuesday night to change Nathan B. Forrest High to Westside High, to reflect the neighborhood.

The Florida Times-Union reported that the vote was unanimous and drew no discussion from board members.

A school advisory council had asked the board to change the name in 2007, but then-board members voted 5-2 against the change.

New school board rules prohibit naming schools after people.

Joan Miller Cooper, an alumna who has advocated keeping the old school name, told the school board that the name Westside is too closely associated with the Westside Mafia gang.

"We all know what effect a bad name can have on students and a school," Cooper said. "There's nothing to be proud of there."

The school district has estimated that changing signs uniforms and other items will cost about $400,000.

But Trey Csar, president of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, said that is a small amount of the district's $1.5 billion budget and shouldn't be reason to keep the old school name.

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