Hanover County denies argument in NAACP federal lawsuit over Confederate names on 2 schools

Hanover County

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Hanover officials responded to a federal lawsuit filed against the county and its school board by the NAACP in August over two schools named after Confederate figures.

The suit argues the First and 14th Amendment rights of African American students are being violated by the names of Lee-Davis High School and its “Confederates” mascot and Stonewall Jackson Middle School and its “Rebels” mascot. The suit also alleges the Equal Educational Opportunities Act has been violated.

Hanover County and the Hanover County School Board are denying many of the allegations made in the lawsuit. 

In separately filed responses to the lawsuit, the county and school board said a “Confederate soldier has not been used as a mascot for Lee-Davis since at least 1994.”

In each response, the county and its school board admits to the facts of how and when the schools were named and their histories, but denies many of the 150 complaints. 

For example, the county and school board deny one of the complaints that said, “The Confederacy and its leadership are inextricably intertwined with the history of slavery in America.” 

Robert Barnette, the president of the Hanover Chapter of NAACP, said the group has been pushing for change for years. 

Robert Barnette, president of the Hanover Chapter of NAACP

“What we’re trying to do is make sure people of all colors are welcome in the school,” said Barnette. “I wasn’t surprised because we’ve been getting these types of responses for the past years anyway.”

The school board voted last year to keep the names of the two schools after a petition to change them. Barnette said their legal team will continue to push for the change. 

“We plan on going through the court process toward depositions and having our day in court,” said Barnette. 

The Chair of the Hanover County School Board said they “cannot comment on pending litigation.”

8News reached out to a spokesperson for Hanover County who said they will not be commenting on the lawsuit.

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