Fort Worth school board backs away from renaming elementary school

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Definition of ‘resident’ Fort Worth schools trustees on Tuesday approved this definition: A person resides in the District if the true, primary, physical place where the person lives with the intent to remain for a considerable amount of time is within the boundaries of the District. A person’s residence is the fixed, permanent and principal place of habitation that is the center of the person’s domestic, social and civic life. A person can reside in only one place at a time. Source: Fort Worth school district board policy

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A proposal to rename John T. White Elementary School was withdrawn from the Fort Worth school board’s agenda Tuesday night after objections were raised.

Trustees had been scheduled to vote on a proposal to rename the east Fort Worth school after for former school board member and state legislator Reby Cary.

“We were apprised of more information about the school and about Mr. John T. White. We understand that there are still some relatives that live in Fort Worth,” school board President Christene Moss said. “The residents in the area wanted to leave the name as it is. We decided we would pull it and see if there is another school we can name after Mr. Cary.”

In 1952, Fort Worth schools annexed the John T. White School District and John T. White Elementary School. In 1968, officials closed John T. White Elementary and moved its 97 students to West Handley Elementary, according to the school’s website. The current school opened in 2011.

White was Tarrant County superintendent of public instruction from 1927 to 1934.

Cary is a writer and historian who was the first African-American elected to the Fort Worth school board. He also served in the Texas Legislature.

Devoyd Jennings told the board that Cary deserves to have a building named for him, whether it is an existing school or a new campus.

“I’m saddened by the fact that this is not happening tonight. The question is, if not now, when? And if not this school, which school?” Jennings said. “We need a positive alternative for this community.”

Nearly 20 people in the audience stood when Jennings asked for a show of support of naming a building for Cary.

“I look forward to working with the board, administration and the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce to find a school worthy as namesake of Mr. Reby Cary, a hometown hero. At age 92 and with his many civic accomplishments, he’s not only earned this honor, but he deserves it,” said Trustee Tobi Jackson.

The board voted 8-0 to name several athletic facilities at Kirkpatrick Middle School for four coaches at the former M.L. Kirkpatrick High School. The school’s alumni association submitted a petition with 351 signatures in favor of the move, said Beverly Davis-Sanders, a 1967 graduate who spearheaded the effort.

The board agreed to name the football field in honor of the late Gerald K. Beal, the main gymnasium in honor of Lester J. Beene, the annex gymnasium in honor of Bert C. Williams and the track in honor of the late Donald G. Parker.

Also, at I.M. Terrell Elementary School, the library is being named in honor of Adelene Lewis James, who served as a librarian in Fort Worth schools for 40 years.

In other business, the board voted 8-0 to add to the district’s policy on admissions a definition of “resident” of the Fort Worth school district.

The definition does not address residency rules for attendance zones for individual campuses. The process for determining who lives in a particular campus attendance zone is handled administratively, Superintendent Walter Dansby said.

The board agreed to pass the policy revision on first reading and waiving a second reading to allow the change to go into effect immediately.

Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326 Twitter: @jessamybrown

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