PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Portland Public Schools is considering changing the names of several schools to distance itself from historical figures with problematic pasts.
In a presentation to the School Board Tuesday night, district staff outlined the process currently underway to rename Wilson High School.
The school is named after former president Woodrow Wilson, who historians say had ties to the Ku Klux Klan and is known for his attempts to segregate the federal workforce.
"In some cases, it's clear that they seem to venerate problematic historical figures whose leadership includes a legacy of deep racism and colonization," Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero said at the meeting.
In public testimony, students and staff at Madison High School called on the district to also consider changing the name of Madison High School, as former president James Madison was known to own more than 100 slaves.
"I want to be proud of Madison and my school's name, but the knowledge of who James Madison was lingers on my mind when I walk into school every morning," said one Madison student, who asked to be identified only by their last name, Dabardoche.
Board members voiced support for taking a closer look at the names of several schools named after historical figures who held problematic views.
Walking outside Wilson High School, parent Molly Molloy, who has an incoming Sophomore at Wilson, echoed that sentiment.
"I support it," Molloy said. "I think it's a good idea. I think it signals to the communities of color that we support them, and we feel like it's an important thing to do."
PPS has put together a Renaming and Redefining Committee, which includes students.
The committee will begin work in September on a process to re-examine the names of schools across the district.
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