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School with Klan name gets new moniker

6:44 AM, Jan 9, 2014   |    comments
The Duval County School Board voted Tuesday night to change Nathan B. Forrest High to Westside High. / AP
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JACKSONVILLE - A Jacksonville high school named after a former Confederate general and the co-founder of the Ku Klux Klan has a new name.

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

The school has been known as Nathan B. Forrest since 1959.

It now carries the name of the neighborhood it's located in.

The vote was unanimous and drew no discussion from board members.

The vote ended a decades-long controversy over the school's name.

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

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said a poll of students and the community indicated that people preferred Westside High to a second option, Firestone High, which is the name of the street where the school is located.

New school board rules prohibit naming schools after people.

School board members moved to remove Forrest's name from the school after hearing public forums and discussions.

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 former school name.

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