Frequently Asked Questions: Proposed Name Change of T.C. Williams High School
The decision to start the public engagement process follows a community petition that was sent to the School Board in June 2020. Today, T.C. Williams High School is proud to educate students from 120 different countries, with 121 different languages spoken. Alexandria City Public Schools views our diversity as a strength. Ensuring racial equity is at the heart of the school division’s Strategic Plan: Equity for All 2025. While we still have work to do inside our schools, the school’s name does not align with who we are as a community.
Why just T.C. Williams and not Matthew Maury too?
Per ACPS policy FF and ACPS regulation FF-R, the public engagement process to reconsider the name of a school requires a petition to be submitted to the Alexandria City School Board. The School Board received such a petition to change the name of T.C. Williams High School in June 2020.
Is this a result of media pressure? There have been several calls in the media recently to change T.C.’s name.
While the timing is certainly right for reconsideration of the name of T.C. Williams High School, this process itself was initiated by a petition that was submitted to the School Board in June. Furthermore, there have been several petitions in the past requesting to change the name of the high school. The superintendent will begin a public engagement process to see where the community stands on this topic before compiling a report for the School Board in the spring 2021.
What is the process?
The Alexandria City School Board and Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. will discuss the scope and process required in a work session on August 27, 2020. A public engagement process will begin in the fall of 2020 and the superintendent will present a report with recommendations to the School Board in the spring of 2021.
What is the timeline?
ACPS will launch a robust public engagement process in the fall 2020. The superintendent will then submit a report to the School Board in spring 2021. At that point a decision about any change of name will require a Board vote.
How will the public be consulted/able to express their opinion?
ACPS is committed to launching a robust public engagement process in the fall 2020 to allow ample time to engage all members of our community with plans to conclude the public engagement process in spring 2021. This process will be shared publicly after August 27.
Is this a done deal, or could the Board decide to keep T.C.’s name after going through this process?
This is the start of a community engagement process around the potential renaming of T.C. Williams High School. This does not definitively mean the school will be renamed.
How long is the process expected to take?
Once a report has been submitted to the Board in spring 2021, it will discuss next steps and the timeline for moving forward.
The name T.C. Williams has become synonymous with the desegregation of Alexandria in 1971. How easy will it be for T.C. to move on from its name and history that are so tightly interconnected?
This will be a conversation for the Board to engage in this fall 2020. There is no doubt that the name of T.C. Williams High School is known across the United States and World. However, this does not mean that a conversation should not take place about whether it is known for the right reasons.
Have you reached out to the players from the 1971 football team to hear what they have to say?
The engagement process will begin in fall 2020. We want to make sure that we hear from everyone who has a view on this topic.
What do you think Herman Boone and Bill Yoast would have had to say about this proposed change?
Our school division cannot speak for any former coaches. But during our engagement process, we will make sure we reach out to their families to hear their opinions.
Why can’t we change the name in time for the start of this school year this fall?
The process to change the name of a school is complex. The School Board must follow the process outlined in Policy FF and Regulation FF-R. It also requires changes to signage, uniforms, materials and the facility itself. It also requires funding and ACPS will need to ensure that there is sufficient budget allocated for any facilities changes needed in the budget.
How much will this cost?
Previous name changes in other neighboring school divisions have cost between $300,000 and $1 million. The cost often depends on the nature of the name change. Arlington Public Schools was able to keep the initials of the former name in the new name of one of its schools, for example, which reduced the costs. Fairfax County Public Schools found the process more expensive when they changed the name to something with different initial letters.
Will the T.C. mascot remain a Titan?
This discussion will be part of the public engagement process.
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